Facebook now tracks your Internet history for advertising

Facebook announced last week that they will now be tracking your “likes” and internet history to develop more targeted ads to their users. You may also have received some form of communication directly from Facebook trying to explain those ads in the last week.

They’ve always collected the information on when you “like” something and through that they’ve always been able to watch what you’re doing. Inside of Facebook they might advertise to you based on likes. Now, they’re using your specific actions through Facebook activity and your Internet browsing to create ads. They’re also required to notify you about these actions, how they work, and how to opt-out.

Image courtesy: Facebook
Image courtesy: Facebook

How do these advertisements work and what does it mean for us?

As more and more websites have Facebook plug-ins, those Facebook features on other websites can track your history presenting a bigger amount of information to advertisers. These are advertisements based on your web browsing. Similar to any website you might visit, as we surf the web we gather “cookies” that are in your web browser. These allow for advertisers to show you specific ads based on what your doing online. So If I’m surfing for shoes, and then visit a different website, there might be a small ad on that other website about the shoes I was just looking. If any of those websites have Facebook buttons, they will now utilize Facebook to deliver more personalized ads.

How do I stop it?

Facebook says mobile devices can limited it through the settings on the Facebook app, but on a regular computer it’s a bit trickier. While you can’t stop the ads themselves, you can opt out of the personalized ads based on your Internet history. Facebook has offered up a special link to the “Digital Advertising Alliance” and they will walk you through how to opt out of those ads. Facebook says they are also upping their privacy controls around this too. They say their doing a better job to explain why users are seeing those ads and plan to roll out an ad preferences feature in the next couple of weeks. See a more detailed way to stop them herehttp://www.wired.com/2014/06/facebook-ad-tracking/?mbid=social_fb

Does that opt-out option work on all of my devices?

No, only the browser your make that selection on. So if you want to opt out on all your devises, you’ll need to do the same thing on your phone, iPad, or even other web browsers you have on your computer. Mobile should be limited as well

Can’t I just delete my cookies?

While that is a temporary solution, it doesn’t solve the problem long term. You’ll likely just restart the process all over again. The best way is to stop accepting cookies. See link on more detailed way to stop it from Wired: http://www.wired.com/2014/06/facebook-ad-tracking/?mbid=social_fb


Beyond Internet history, what happens when a business wants to advertise specifically on Facebook?

Facebook says they never share personal information with a business. Instead what they use are people’s interests. So a business has a few options:

-People who like their page
-People who like other pages
-People who like certain things on Facebook
-Age and location demographics — these are very generic like a male between the ages of 19-25 who lives in Maine. This then becomes a very targeted posts.

To read more on Facebook’s advertising history and what it means: