Consider this an early gift from me to you, Mark.
You can keep monetizing me on Instagram, even though you just tried to force me to give my consent to target me with "personalized" content -- advertising, and lord knows what else -- based on my birthday.
Actually, you gave me no choice.
When I logged in this morning you blocked access to my account until I entered a birth date, so I entered yours.
I recommend that anyone who reads this do the same, because maybe, just maybe, it will send a message to you and your shareholders.
And who knows, if enough of us do it, it just might send a message to advertisers who do business with a company that has no respect for its users' personal data rights.
"Add your birthday," your opt-in wall demanded.
"We're asking for this info to help protect younger people in our community," it continued, burying the actual lead that followed: "We'll also use your birthday to help personalize your experience, including ads."
I tried to find a workaround to see if I could comply without giving explicit consent to use my birthday to target me, but everything I clicked on was the same boilerplate implying Meta needed it to comply with federal regulations requiring users to be 13 or older.
But you already knew that about me, because I agreed to similar boilerplate when I originally registered for Facebook, opted into your inscrutable end-user license agreement, and accepted your onerous terms and conditions.
The funny thing is that was nearly 15 years ago. And I know you still have my data, so you already knew I'm at least 13 years old. Either that, or I signed up before I was even a gleam in your monetizing eyes.
The worst part about your sneaky ad targeting opt-in requirement is that it disrespects your users. I mean, just come right out and say what you are using it for. You have a right to require certain data about me as a condition for using your services. And I have a right to decide whether it is worth it.
Don't make it seem like it's connected to complying with age-related regulations, when the real reason is that you just want to enhance your ad targeting, increase your revenue and boost the return on your shareholders' equity, especially your largest one.
Do not insult us by trying to make it seem like you need the data to be a good corporate citizen, because there are plenty of ways to protect young people without requiring someone also agree to having ads targeted at them based on their most personal data.
Here, I'll even show you.
The one below is from another industry that has federal age-compliance requirements -- alcohol marketers -- who must verify people are 21 or older before accessing their content.
This one is from jackdaniels.com:
Yes, it requires someone to enter their birth date as confirmation, but it explicitly states: "This information will not be used for marketing purposes."
Just like Jack, some of us would prefer to keep our birthdate a mystery to marketers.
It should be our choice. And even if it isn't, you shouldn't make it seem like you're doing it to protect children, because otherwise you wouldn't have made ad-targeting consent a requirement for doing it.
So happy birthday, Mark.
DM your mailing address to me @joemandese and I'll send you a card when it rolls around.