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Snapchat will soon use ‘creepy’ ad targeting on you, but here’s how to opt out

Why it matters to you

Snapchat is about to start using your offline activity to serve you in-app ads by collecting your data from a third-party.

Despite publicly denouncing an abundance of ads as “creepy,” Snapchat is now embracing ad-targeting in the vein of Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

The company has struck a deal with Oracle Data Cloud — an offline data provider — that marks the first time it has allowed for ad targeting using third party data, according to The Wall Street Journal. What this essentially means is that Snapchat will start showing you ads based on the offline purchasing data it obtains from Oracle Data Cloud. This will then allow the company to determine whether your offline activity is influenced by the ads on its platform, allowing it to theoretically attract more marketing dollars.

The third-party data aggregator claims that it has information on more than 110 million households, $2 trillion in consumer spending, and more than 1,500 brands. It collects this data via a series of methods including through loyalty cards, shops and retailers, catalog orders and catalog address lists. Although Oracle claims that its online marketing data is only stored for 180 days and does not directly identify individuals, it states no such thing about its offline data. Referring to this type of info, Oracle claims it may include a person’s name and physical address, and telephone numbers, among other data.

According to Facebook, it uses its online and offline data to improve the ads it serves users (even giving you personalization tools through its ad preferences feature). However, digital privacy advocates such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and ProPublica have raised concerns over the use of offline marketing information in the past.

How to opt-out of Snapchat’s targeted ads

Fortunately, if you happen to be averse to targeted ads, Snapchat does have an option that lets you disable them. To access the option, you have to first tap the ghost icon atop the screen in camera mode. This takes you to your profile, where you’ll see a gear icon tucked in the top right-hand corner that indicates your settings tab. Tap it, and scroll through the list until you see “manage preferences” under the “additional services” option. Select it and you’ll be able to access your advert preferences on the corresponding screen, where you can turn off the “Snap Audience Match” option. This turns off all ads from Snap’s advertising partners including the Oracle Data Cloud. It does not, however, stop Snapchat from serving you ads based on your online, in-app activity.

If you want to stop Oracle providing your data to other digital platforms (that don’t let you opt-out of targeted ads) the only viable option you have is to write to Oracle itself. You can find out how to reach the company, along with more about its Oracle Data Cloud privacy policy here.

Snapchat isn’t the only web platform using Oracle’s information to target users — aside from the aforementioned tech giants, Oracle also has similar partnerships in place with Pinterest, and Google-owned YouTube.

The reasoning behind Snapchat’s recent ramping up of ads on its platform is likely its imminent IPO: the visual messaging app’s parent company Snap is expected to go public in March. And nothing pleases investors more than ad sales.

Updated on 01-19-2017 by Saqib Shah: Added info on how to opt out of Snap’s targeted ads.