Facebook Will Target Ads Based on Your Web Browsing

Facebook's next big update will look into your history

By Gabriela Vatu on June 12th, 2014 12:20 GMT

Facebook is currently rolling out a platform update in the United Sates that will threaten your privacy even more than usual. The social network is planning to start using app and website information from users’ browsing habits to provide more relevant ads, to serve both its clients and its users.  

Basically, Facebook will look into your browsing history and will use information from there to better target ads. For instance, if you search for a new phone, you’ll likely get ads about that phone straight into your Facebook news feed.

Up until now, Facebook has used such data for its own purposes, which were mainly limited to security concerns. The changes that are currently being rolled out aren’t exactly ideal, especially for the less tech-oriented users.

The new feature will be rolled out as default, which means that you’ll have to disable it by using the industry-standard Digital Advertising Alliance opt-out, or the specific Android and iOS controls.

The move will certainly spark a wide round of complaints from users who want to preserve at least some of their privacy. While it’s true that Facebook will likely use the opt-out as a way to justify the changes, users won’t really love the fact that the feature will be the default option and that they’ll have to take specific steps to shut it down.

Since most users barely know how to change their privacy settings, chances are that they’re going to find it just as difficult to alter this feature too.

Truth be told, if Facebook hadn’t chosen this tactic, no one would have ever enabled the new browser tracking capability.

“People also tell us they want more control over the ads they see. That’s why we’re introducing ad preferences, a new tool accessible from every ad on Facebook that explains why you’re seeing a specific ad and lets you add and remove interests that we use to show you ads. So if you’re not interested in electronics, you can remove electronics from your ad interests,” Facebook writes in the announcement.

In the coming weeks, Facebook will add a drop-down menu to its ads and if you’re not interested in a particular topic, you’ll be able to remove it from your ad interests. This will make any similar ads invisible to you in the future.

Both of these two new features are going to affect US users in the first wave, according to Facebook, although the company is working hard to expand them to a global level in the coming months.

Correction: We have updated the article to reflect the fact that Facebook will incorporate web browsing history to the ad targeting schematic marketers used to reach those who are interested in specific products. 
Facebook to step all over your privacy
   Facebook to step all over your privacy
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