“Complexity is Fraud”: Why We Must Drop Micro-Targeted Ads to Help Publishers and to Protect Online Privacy

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It has been clear for years that the widespread use of micro-targeted advertising and real-time bidding represents a huge threat to online privacy. Fortunately, an alternative approach is already to hand. Using contextual advertising, where ads are placed according to the editorial material, rather than based on who is viewing it, would allow the entire surveillance advertising edifice to be dismantled. But there are major forces ranged against the idea. The Internet giants Google and Facebook derive most of their income from privacy-harmful advertising. A huge adtech industry has sprung up to service that approach. The publishers that display many of these micro-targeted ads claim they need them to survive. Many of these players have well-oiled lobbying machines that push these arguments to politicians in order to prevent new legislation from restricting or even banning micro-targeted ads.

Against those massively well-financed and well-connected groups, the fight to rein in micro-targeted advertising might seem hopeless. Nonetheless, there are efforts to counter those powers. Privacy News Online

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