Tech Giants Including Apple, Google, and TikTok Face Criticism for Insufficient Ad Transparency

What you should know


  • The ‘free internet’ is largely funded by ads, which has raised concerns about privacy and the need for ad transparency.
  • Despite demands for greater ad transparency, a new report by Mozilla and CheckFirst indicates that tech giants like Apple, Google, TikTok, and X are failing to provide adequate transparency tools to users.
  • The research evaluated the transparency tools of each company using over 20 parameters and found that all companies could do more to disclose why users are seeing certain ads and who is behind them.
  • Recommendations for improving ad transparency include providing access to paid political and issue-based ads, offering more detailed ad information, and ensuring data accessibility and public access to transparency APIs.


Full Story

Ah, the ‘free internet.’ A place where ads reign supreme. But here’s the kicker: those ads? They’re kinda spying on us to serve up something we might actually click on. Not cool, right? It’s like, “Hey, I didn’t say you could rummage through my digital drawers!”

So, what did we do? We started hollering for something called ad transparency. You know, a little honesty about why you’re seeing this ad for the tenth time today. iPhones even rolled out this fancy feature called App Tracking Transparency. Thought we were getting somewhere, huh?

But, plot twist: turns out, this so-called transparency is as clear as mud. A new report’s just dropped, and guess what? It’s throwing shade at the tech giants. Yep, according to Apple Insider, not a single one of these behemoths is acing the ad transparency test. Talk about a letdown.

This report, right? It’s the brainchild of Mozilla and CheckFirst, straight outta Finland. They’ve been snooping around, checking out how transparent companies like Apple, Google, TikTok, and X really are. Spoiler: it’s not looking great. These giants, they could really step up their game in letting us know why we’re being bombarded with ads and who’s pulling the strings.

Now, get this: the research spanned from December 2023 to January 2024. These folks evaluated the transparency tools of each company, using over 20 parameters. We’re talking functionality, accuracy, data accessibility—the works. And guess who’s at the bottom of the class? X. Their data’s buried in some clunky CSV file that takes ages to load. Plus, it’s missing bits like targeting parameters. Not exactly user-friendly.

But hey, it’s not all doom and gloom. Apple, LinkedIn, and TikTok? They’re doing a bit better. Still, they’re not quite hitting the mark. Apple got a pat on the back for its API’s accessibility but got dinged for only offering data in English.

The study didn’t just stop at pointing fingers. It’s also dishing out advice on how to up the transparency game. Like, transparency APIs should let us peek at paid political ads and issue-based ads with no strings attached. And it’d be nice to get the 411 on ad content, targeting criteria, and all that jazz. Plus, they’re saying data should be accessible for at least a decade and ads should pop up in the database within 24 hours of going live. Oh, and everyone should get to play with the API and data.

Regulators, you listening? The report’s got a wishlist for you too. It’s calling for some tight rules around branded, sponsored, or paid influencer content.

Now, shifting gears a bit. Let’s talk about Izzy. She’s all about that tech life, a real gem in the PhoneArena team. Whether it’s the latest mobile tech news or snagging the best deals, she’s on it. But Izzy’s not just about gadgets. She’s got a master’s in literature, loves to get lost in a good book, and dabbles in painting and languages. Plus, she’s big on personal growth—experience and gratitude are her jam. And when she’s not geeking out over the latest phone design or camera tech, you might find her walking her Chihuahua or belting out a tune. Izzy’s living life with a full heart and endless curiosity.

Derrick Flynn
Derrick Flynn
With over four years of experience in tech journalism, Derrick has honed his skills and knowledge to become a vital part of the PhonesInsights team. His intuitive reviews and insightful commentary on the latest smartphones and wearable technology consistently provide our readers with valuable information.


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