As general consumers, going about our everyday lives, Facebook can be quite the useful tool. It provides us with a platform to connect, learn, play, advocate, and purchase. However, because we are exactly that–– consumers in everyday society––we need to know exactly what Facebook is collecting and tracking through each and every individual account.
Most websites like Facebook get their ads from ad networks, and each ad network enables packets of information called a “cookie” on your computer. When you visit one of the member sites, the site recognizes the cookie and lets the ad network know where you are so that it can send personalized ads to your account based on the cookies left from every website we visit. However, these types of websites share what we do on their sites in order to build a database, determining what you do and do not like, even going to far as to share specific items that you’ve looked for, how long you browsed for, and when you scrolled. This makes it easier for the ad network to send you ads that it thinks you’ll want to click on.
If you think this level of data sharing is problematic, it only gets worse when you add Facebook into the ad network. Most websites have to figure out what you’re thinking based on what you do. On Facebook, however, users are disclosing intimate details of their lives, sharing exactly what their thinking, when their thinking it, and when and where they’ll be.
Not the level of privacy you were looking for? Facebook provides a way to manage your ad settings and we here at Privacy Shell are giving your a step by step how to guide for blocking Facebook trackers.
1. Click on the downwards pointing arrow in the top right hand corner.
2. Click on “Settings”
3. Click on “Ads”.
4. Choose “Edit” in each section of the Ads to change each setting.
5. Switch your settings to “Off”.
6. As you can see my settings are set to “Off”. In this section, your screen may show “John Smith likes Apple (interest based ads if you’ve searched for a phone recently, for instance).
7. Looking at “Application based Ads”, click on the “Apps” button toward the middle left and take a look at both “Applications Logged in with Facebook” and “Logged in Anonymously”.
8. Next we will look at the adjustable setting once again. I have everything set to “Only Me” or “Disabled”. These could potentially be lists of applications retrieving our information from daily Facebook usage.
9. Finally, go through the list and clear out what you will and will not share, because at the end of the day, it is completely up to the user.
As you can see here, my online Facebook profile presence is not ruled by my Internet browsing habits. Take a look at the terms and conditions (check out Privacy Shell’s article on staying up to date with Facebook’s privacy policies), understand what you sign up for and what you’re sharing across platforms, be cautious, and make sure you understand the consequences of your browsing habits. So be comforted in knowing that you can return the cookies back to the Facebook cookie jar, because we don’t have to share if we don’t want to.
About Jitesh Chauhan
A student of life with a passion for people, communication, and privacy.