How to Keep Facebook Out Of Your Face
Facebook recently announced that it will start using all the data it collects about your browsing habits to deliver more targeted ads to you. That does not mean “better targeted” ads, necessarily. It means that Facebook will sell more ads, more ads will appear on your Facebook pages, and more advertisers will know more about you. If you don’t want that to happen, here's what you need to do...
The Facebook Opt-out Process
It may surprise you to know that Facebook has not been selling all of that data all along. After all, it’s common practice among many major websites, and advertisers are reluctant to spend money when they don’t have access to browsing history data that they believe will help them get the most bang for their advertising bucks.
The practice of displaying "interest-based" ads means that advertising networks make predictions about your interests based on the websites you visit over time, and customize ads accordingly.
To some, this is creepy. "Hey, why am I seeing ads for shoes on every website I visit, after shopping online for shoes?" Others may not care, and some even find it useful. Without this type of customization, you'll be seeing ads that have nothing to do with your interests.
Until now, Facebook has jealously guarded the enormous amount of data that it collects on its members. It’s time to cash in on that information treasure, apparently.
On the bright side, Facebook will give members a bit more control over what ads they see. Ads will include drop-down menus that allow you to block ads from specific brands or firms. There will also be a little arrow in the top right corner which you can click to find out why that particular ad was chosen. For some reason, I get a lot of ads on Facebook for women's clothing, so that will be a useful feature for me. (Perhaps they noticed I had recently played the Monty Python "Lumberjack" song.)
To opt out of browser history sharing (interest-based advertising) Facebook directs you to manage your “ad preferences” using a tool provided by the Digital Advertising Alliance, a trade group for Web marketers. Facebook and other websites that display ads have agreed to honor the ad preferences that you specify here.
A visit to this page automatically launches a scan of your browser’s status, revealing whether you have cookies enabled. Cookies identify advertisers who drop them on your PC in order to track your Web browsing. From cookie information, the DAA compiles a list of firms that you “permit” to show you targeted ads, and whatever else their convoluted, tedious “privacy” policies permit them to get away with. You can view this list of companies and revoke your unwitting “permission” for all or some of them.
Are We There, Yet?
But don’t think that clicking “opt-out from all” is going to eliminate ads from your Web experience or completely stop the sharing and selling of your browsing habits. Only members of the DAA appear on the list of firms whose surveillance you can escape. It’s unknown how many Facebook advertisers belong to the DAA, so you may still see some targetted ads after opting out of sharing with “all” advertisers.
There are a few other caveats. The opt-out preferences are stored separately for each browser, so you'll have to visit the opt-out page for each browser you use. Also, because the opt-out preferences are stored in a browser cookie, the opt-out tool won't work if you have cookies blocked or disabled. It follows that if you clear your browser cookies, your opt-out preferences are wiped out. Also, only current DAA members are obliged to respect your opt-out choices. So if you're serious about opting out, you'll need to visit the opt-out tool on a regular basis.
Does interest-based advertising bother you? Or do you see it as a useful thing? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 18 Jun 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- How to Keep Facebook Out Of Your Face (Posted: 18 Jun 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved