Turning Off Facebook Ad Tracking Doesn’t Actually Stop Creepy Personalization

Facebook makes a vast amount of its revenue through targeted advertising. However, this hyper-relevant content can often feel creepy and invasive. After all, the platform knows virtually everything about us, from our romantic situations to employment, religion, interests and more. That’s why many users choose to turn off Facebook’s ad tracking. However, according to Digital Trends writer Hillary K. Grigonis, that doesn’t actually stop the site from personalizing content.

In a recent report, Grigonis said she toggled off all seven of Facebook’s ad tracking controls, expecting the personal ads in her news feed to be replaced by generic ones. However, the targeted ads continued, and in some cases, seemed even more personalized than before. That’s because when users turn off ad tracking, the platform merely defaults to baseline data tracking that is virtually impossible to turn off. Experts say that the vast majority of users are clueless as to just how much Facebook knows about them — and how hard it is to stop the company from finding out.

“There are several misconceptions on Facebook ads,” Electronic Frontier Foundation technologist Bennett Cyphers told Digital Trends. “One, that you can opt-out of targeted ads. Two, that you can opt-out to protect your privacy when Facebook still collects the exact same amount of data.”

This is certainly a discouraging report, but it’s still worth taking the time to learn your privacy controls and keep them as strong as possible. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s better than nothing.




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