Facebook Will Use Web Browsing History for Ad Targeting, Will Not Honor “Do Not Track” Features

facebook-privacy-200Facebook announced this week in a blog post that it will begin to keep track of users’ off-site web browsing information for its targeted advertising. Facebook also announced it will not honor the “do not track” setting found in many web browsers. Many of the site’s competitors, including Google, Pinterest and Twitter, similarly ignore the setting.

Facebook will be able to track users’ web browsing on websites where the Facebook button is encoded, whether the user has “Liked” the webpage or not. However, users will be able to opt out of ads targeted through web-browsing history through the Digital Advertising Alliance’s “AdChoices” program.

Ad Preferences :

The site is also stepping up some of its privacy practices to balance out its new restrictions, including adding a “why am I seeing this ad?” feature. Users will be able to click on the new drop-down menu and receive an explanation for why they’re seeing a certain ad. They will also have more control over their ad preferences, and will be able to either select or deselect categories based on their interests.

All together, the mixed announcements will be sure to cause controversy among those already put off by Facebook’s privacy practices.

“For as long as Facebook has sold advertising, people have been wary about what Facebook has been doing with their data,” market research analyst Debra Aho Williamson told Ad Age. “By making these two announcements together, Facebook is saying, yes, we’re gathering more data to target, but you have control over what data we’re able to use.”

Actions you can take to help limit targeting and tracking:

  1. Use DoNotTrackMe® to block a number of web tracking companies online.
  2. You can use one browser just for Facebook and another browser for surfing the web. It’s also a good idea to log out of Facebook when you aren’t using the site.
  3. Use a dedicated, unique email address just for your Facebook account.
  4. Use Private Browsing mode if offered by your web browser and clear your cookies after each session.
  5. Using a Virtual Private Network can mask your IP address and can make it more difficult for companies to track you.