Instagram isn’t eavesdropping on its customers’ conversations offline to target them with ads, in line with its chief, Adam Mosseri.
In a new interview with CBS’s Gayle King, Mosseri addressed the common suspicion that Instagram and its owner, Facebook, tap into user’s phones to collect ad-targeting intelligence.
King asked Mosseri concerning what happens on the back end when a commercial for something she just mentioned privately uncannily shows up in her Instagram feed.
“There are 2 ways that can happen,” Mosseri said. “One is dumb luck, which may happen. The second is, you may be talking regarding something because it’s top of mind because you’ve been interacting with that kind of content more recently. Thus perhaps you’re very into food and restaurants. You saw a restaurant on Facebook or Instagram and you actually like the thing. It is top of mind, perhaps it’s subconscious and then it bubbles up later. i feel this kind of issue happens usually in a way that’s very delicate.”
Mosseri emphasized that Instagram isn’t listening in on its users’ personal discussions through a device’s microphone, however acknowledged customers’ skepticism.
Facebook has suffered a blow to customers’ trust in its services’ ability to guard privacy since the Cambridge Analytica scandal in March 2018. That incident disclosed Facebook allowed a third-party service to gather user information without consent that was used to target U.S. voters in the 2016 election.
“But we don’t look into your messages, we don’t listen in on your microphone, doing so would be super problematic for a lot of different reasons,” Mosseri said. “But I do understand you’re not going to really believe me.”