Don’t want targeted ads on Facebook? 3 things you can do now

Security & Privacy

Before the first Edward Snowden revelations began, most discussions of online privacy focused on Facebook.

Regulators and users regularly complained about the world’s largest social network’s questionable respect for your private data. But as the site’s membership continued to grow and the awesome scope of government surveillance became public, complaining about how the things we willingly share became less of a priority.

Meanwhile, Facebook has done what Twitter is still struggling to do.

It figured out a way to keep growing and become profitable. It’s done this, says New York University Professor of Marketing Scott Galloway, with the “biggest bait-and-switch in marketing history.” It convinced many of the world’s biggest brands to build up huge communities then suddenly shut off access to them. Today the average brand post only reaches 6 percent of a page’s followers organically — unless the page pays to promote it.

By doing this Facebook, has improved its user experience. Since the average person follows hundreds of brands, your feed could easily be overwhelmed by commercial posts. This simultaneously improves the engagement with the site and and makes you an even more desirable yet illusive product to its advertisers. Yes, if you’re getting something for free, you’re the product. And to sell you, Facebook needs as much information as possible, even more than we share willingly on the site.

So, yes, Facebook tracks you across the webpossibly even if you’re not a Facebook user. And its tracking is so comprehensive the profile of you it creates might even affect your credit score. You can see how good Facebook’s Retargeting has become by checking out the second post in your newsfeed. It’s from typically an ad from a site or a competitor of a site you’ve recently visited.

This works so well, that you should expect to see nearly the same exact methods being used for Instagram, which is owned by Facebook and has announced its more marketer friendly ads are rolling out.

We put up with this, Galloway says, because relevance is more important to us than privacy. We want relevant news about our friends and family that we can’t get anywhere else. We want to know what people in general are talking about. And we want good offers and deals from the artists and businesses we enjoy. For this, we give up our data. That’s the cost and rather than admitting that, we just click “yes” on terms and conditions that could include a requirement we give up our first born.

But if you want to define your own space and not have your activity used against you, there are few things you can do this.

1. Tell Facebook you don’t want to see ads.
Facebook isn’t in the business of getting you off its site. Let it know you don’t want ads, and it will probably save them for its billion other users. A few people in our Labs have tried this and reported they’re seeing way fewer ads from third-parties. So give it a go.

Click on the upper right corner “X” of an Facebook ad on the right rail and you’ll see this:

Facebook ads, privacy

Click on “Why am I seeing this?”

You’ll see this:

Manage Facebook Ad Preference

Select “Manage Your Ad Preferences”.

Click on a category and start deleting topics by selecting the “X” button on the far right of the column.

Then you next time you see an ad, click the upper right “X” then select “I don’t want to see this”.


2. Opt out of targeted ads.
You can’t turn off all ads. But you can keep Facebook ads from targeting you.

“If you don’t want Facebook or other participating companies to collect or use information based on your activity on websites, devices, or apps off Facebook for the purpose of showing you ads, you can opt out…” But you have to leave Facebook. To do this.

USA: Digital Advertising Alliance

Canada: Digital Advertising Alliance of Canada

Europe: European Digital Advertising Alliance

You need to do the same thing on your mobile browser.

3. Stop Facebook from tracking your mobile app data.

1. Go to “Settings”.
2. Go to “Privacy”.
3. Go to “Advertising”. It’s all the way at the bottom, of course.
4. Turn on “Limit Ad Tracking”.

1. Go to “Settings”.
2. Go to “Accounts”.
3. Select “Google”.
4. Select “Ads”
5. Click “Opt out of interest-based ads”.

Here’s the bad news.

“But choosing these latter options doesn’t stop Facebook completely from tracking your phone activity. Huh?” the Wall St. Journal‘s Geoffrey A. Fowler writes. “Facebook says it can still get data from the apps of its business partners, to monitor how effective an ad is at getting you to play a game, for instance.”


Get your name and picture out of Facebook’s ads.

Yes, Facebook can use your identity and image in ads shown to your friends, unless you opt out.

Here’s how.

1. Click on the lockbox in the upper right corner.
2. Select “More Settings”.
3. On the left rail menu, click “Ads”.
4. Next to “Ads and Friends” click “Edit”
5. Where it says “Pair my social actions with ads for”, select “No one”.

[Image by Giuseppe Milo | Flickr]


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