How Facebook is stalking you

Facebook has a clever tool called Audience Network that shows you ads based on your web activity and interests. Basically, this means Facebook is stalking your activity, getting to know your interests and then targeting you with related content to keep you online for longer. Unnerving, right?

To see what Facebook already knows about your interests, visit your Facebook Ad Preferences page. Here, you’ll find a list of categories, ranging from Business and Industry to Food and Drink. Click on any category to view a drop-down list of sub-categories containing subjects that you’ve ‘liked’ or ads that you’ve clicked. If you want to know why Facebook included an interest, you can click on the subject and read a brief explanation.

For example, I once liked a page about the character Tin Tin. So Facebook adjusted my preferences to show me related ads and pages. According to Facebook, I must be interested in seeing content about Asterix, India, comic books and Tom and Jerry – even if I’m not.

So, if you want to stop Facebook showing you particular content, click on the ‘x’ to remove it from your preferences list. The only way to stop Facebook targeting you with content in the future is to stop clicking on ads and pages – or basically, stop using Facebook altogether.

But Facebook’s Audience Network doesn’t stop on its own website. In September, Business Insider reported that Facebook now keeps track of your interests all over the internet.

A statement released by Facebook said: “Today we’re expanding Audience Network so publishers and developers can show better ads to someone – including those who don’t use or aren’t connected to Facebook.”

If you find this too intrusive you can disable it. Here’s how:

  • go to your Facebook Settings and select Adverts
  • change ‘Ads based on my use of websites and apps’ to Off
  • change ‘Ads on apps and websites off of the Facebook companies’ to No
  • change ‘Adverts with my social actions’ to No one.

The final category ‘Adverts based on my preferences’ will take you back to your Facebook Ad Preferences page (already covered at the start of this article).

Related articles:
Make Facebook’s app less intrusive
Mute your iPhone’s calls and texts
Disable Facebook’s video auto-play

Amelia Theodorakis
Amelia Theodorakis
A writer and communications specialist with eight years’ in startups, SMEs, not-for-profits and corporates. Interests and expertise in gender studies, history, finance, banking, human interest, literature and poetry.
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