Instagram head Adam Mosseri promises the platform does not listen in on its users. In his first U.S. TV interview since taking the helm in October, “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King presses Mosseri on the question that’s been on her mind and many others: Why do I see ads for products I haven’t searched for?
“Can you help me understand how I can be having a private conversation with someone about something I’m interested in seeing or buying… and an advertisement for that will pop up on my Instagram feed,” King asked. “I haven’t searched for it, I haven’t talked to anybody about it. I swear I think you guys are listening. I know you’re gonna say you’re not.”
Mosseri acknowledged that a lot of people have the same question and tried to explain how ads might show up. “There are two ways that can happen. One is dumb luck, which can happen. The second is you might be talking about something because it’s top of mind because you’ve been interacting with that type of content more recently. So maybe you’re really into food and restaurants. You saw a restaurant on Facebook or Instagram and you really like the thing. It’s top of mind, maybe it’s subconscious and then it bubbles up later. I think this kind of thing happens often in a way that’s really subtle.”
And Mosseri insisted that Instagram doesn’t spy. “But we don’t look at your messages, we don’t listen in on your microphone, doing so would be super problematic for a lot of different reasons. But I recognize you’re not gonna really believe me.”
In addition to advertising, the pair discuss how the platform is planning to handle so-called deepfakes — phony videos that have been manipulated to look and sound real — the upcoming 2020 election and whether its parent company Facebook has gotten too big.