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This article was published on June 12, 2014

Facebook will serve you ads based on more of your Web browsing history. Here’s how you can opt out.

Facebook will serve you ads based on more of your Web browsing history. Here’s how you can opt out.
Paul Sawers
Story by

Paul Sawers

Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.

Earlier today, Facebook revealed that ads served on mobile devices will include links to a Facebook Page, social context and sharing options from August 6. This move essentially brings its mobile apps in line with those on the desktop version of Facebook.

Now, however, Facebook has revealed another interesting tidbit around its advertising plans. While it currently primarily garners data from your main Facebook-browsing activity to serve you ads, it will soon start using more information from third-party websites and apps too, though only in the US at first. The company is quick on the defensive already too, adding that:

“This is a type of interest-based advertising, and many companies already do this.”

That may be so, but it’s unlikely to appease those already critical of Facebook’s management of user data. At any rate, here’s how it works, according to Facebook itself:

“Let’s say that you’re thinking about buying a new TV, and you start researching TVs on the web and in mobile apps. We may show you ads for deals on a TV to help you get the best price or other brands to consider. And because we think you’re interested in electronics, we may show you ads for other electronics in the future, like speakers or a game console to go with your new TV.”

Facebook already enables ad retargeting to users who’ve browsed specific websites and apps, which advertisers activate via tracking software. Then there’s Facebook Exchange, a real-time bidding ad exchange that lets advertisers retarget users based on their prior browsing history. But with this latest move, Facebook is really pushing the boat out in terms of how it uses data for interest-based ads.

Facebook is making this opt-out though, through a more convoluted means than simply ticking a box in your account profile. Here’s a quick guide to how you can opt out.

Opting out

The social networking giant is adopting the industry-standard Digital Advertising Alliance behavioral advertising opt-out tool, meaning all you have to do is click here and select which companies (including Facebook) you want to opt-out from on your specific browser:

FireShot Screen Capture #183 - 'Opt Out From Online Behavioral Advertising By Participating Companies (BETA)' - www_aboutads_info_choices
Behavioral Advertising Opt-Out (Browser)

Additionally, Facebook also reminds you that it’s possible to opt-out “using the controls that iOS and Android provide.”

On Android, all you need to do is visit the Google Settings app under ‘Accounts’, and hit ‘Ads’. The ‘Opt Out of interest-based ads’ may already be selected for you, but if it isn’t, now’s the time to do it if the thought of Facebook targeting you with tailored ads spooks you.



In the iOS realm, it’s pretty much an identical process. Just visit Settings>Privacy>Advertising, and activate ‘Limit Ad Tracking’.

Photo 12-06-2014 12 20 54
Photo 12-06-2014 12 21 06 (1)

Of course, this doesn’t stop advertising, it just means that you have a little more control over what personal browsing behaviors of yours informs Facebook’s ads.

It’s also worth adding here that Facebook isn’t actually collating new data in light of today’s news – it can already access a wealth of information from apps that tap the Facebook SDK (software development kit), or websites that use the Facebook conversion pixel. Now, it’s merely looking to utilize this data to give you better adverts.

In related news, Facebook is also rolling out a new ad preferences tool, which is accessible from every ad on Facebook. Before, you could click on an ad to tell it ‘I don’t want to see this’ or ‘Hide all ads from [Advertiser Name]’. Now, it will tell you why you’re seeing a specific ad, giving you granular control in terms of removing personal interests it has used to deliver a specific advert. Hate tennis? You can banish related ads for good.

FireShot Screen Capture #184 - 'Making Ads Better and Giving People More Control Over the Ads They See I Facebook Newsroom' - newsroom_fb_com_news_2014_06_making-ads-better-and-giving-people-more-control-over-the-ads-t

Meanwhile, here’s Facebook’s own informational video on how its advertising works.


Making Ads Better | Facebook

Feature Image Credit – JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images

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