Facebook’s been changing privacy options again. And guess what? You probably missed it.
As usual, the default option is for you to be oversharing your details, so here’s what you need to know to set things right.
What Has Changed With Facebook Advert Preferences?
Firstly, if you’ve already set your Facebook Ad Preferences and advert privacy, your settings haven’t changed. Matt Steinfeld from Facebook was very clear about that. But there’s a little more to it that you should know, especially if you’ve never set these preferences at all.
Up until now, your only ad preference decision was just about whether or not Facebook could track your behaviour across the web and in Facebook apps to determine which adverts you see. Now, Facebook will also let you choose whether to use your ad preferences on Facebook to determine which adverts you see through the Facebook Audience Network. So that includes the pages you like, and the preferences based on information you’ve entered into your profile.
“If you have ever opted out of online interest-based ads, you opted out of this for all ads Facebook served, both on Facebook and off. Nothing in our announcement on May 26 changes this. If you opted out on May 25, you’re still opted out today.” — Matt Steinfeld
These Adverts Are Everywhere You Go
It’s also worth being clear about where you’ll see these adverts. Your Facebook ad preference obviously affects the ads you’re shown on Facebook, but it now also affects the adverts you see served up by the Facebook Audience Network everywhere around the web.
These adverts are also seen by non-Facebook users, and Facebook’s VP of their ads and business platform, Andrew Bosworth, is keen to develop the Facebook Audience Network even further.
“Publishers and app developers have some users who aren’t Facebook users. We think we can do a better job powering those ads.” — Andrew Bosworth
So, some of the adverts you have been seeing were based on what Facebook’s cookies knew about your browsing habits. This means if you had been looking at wedding blogs, you might be served with adverts for wedding products. Note that Facebook doesn’t actually even need to track you. If you’ve changed your Facebook relationship status to “Engaged” they’ll use that information to serve you relevant adverts.
In some ways, this is good as it means you will now see more relevant adverts when you browse the web and Facebook, even if you’re blocking cookies for your privacy. I mean, if you’re going to see adverts anyway, they may as well be ones you might find interesting.
It’s also worth noting that Facebook aim to keep adverts high quality, ensuring there is no deception, no default sound and the like.
But if you’re against Facebook using this information, here’s what you need to do. In your Facebook Settings, click on the Ads section.
Using Your Data Collected By Facebook to Serve You Adverts
The first option labelled “Ads based on my use of websites and apps” is all about serving ads based on your web habits. The default setting here is set in conjunction with your Digital Advertising Alliance choices (and similar organisations), which means for most people your default setting is to see these adverts.
This also means that if you’re not on Facebook, you can set your preferences for this by visiting the Digital Advertising Alliance, or other relevant authority in your country.
Adverts You See Around The Web
The second choice you can make is regarding “Ads on apps and websites off of the Facebook Companies”. This is the new option, and it determines whether your Facebook Ad Preferences are used to serve relevant advertising to you when you’re visiting other sites on the web (not owned by Facebook).
Previously, this was on by default to everyone, with no option to turn it off. So despite this being yet another privacy setting that is on by default, the main difference now is that we can disable it if we like.
Note that if you turn this off you’ll still see adverts from the Facebook Audience Network while you’re browsing the web. It’s just that they won’t be tailored to you.
Ads With Social Actions
While you’re here, I recommend you limit the “Ads with my social actions” section to “No-One”. These are the sponsored ones you see occasionally on Facebook that tell you about pages your friends have liked, with the vague presumption you might also like that page.
While it might seem innocent enough, I find the idea that Facebook might throw an advert into my friend’s home feed telling them that I like a certain political party or blog quite invasive. And this is an all-or-nothing setting too. If you leave it on the default setting, anyone you’re friends with might see an ad with your name on it for any page you’ve liked. Even that guy you met once at a party who’s probably forgotten who you are.
Just imagine, your boss is idly flicking through Facebook and they see an ad saying “John Smith likes Hooters”. Or maybe it’s your grandma browsing away and she sees “John Smith likes I F***ing Love Science”. Now think about the political party pages you’ve liked, blogs, stores, TV shows, music, etc and you’ve got a good idea why you should turn this off.
Change Your Facebook Ad Preferences
Below these settings is an option to adjust your Facebook Ad Preferences. These preferences are built up using information on pages you’ve liked and other actions you’ve taken on Facebook.
The Ad Preferences are separated into sections, so it’s easy enough to find what you’re looking for and adjust it. That said, it’s a little bit sneaky.
Just say you like a page, then it shows up in your ad preferences. Later when you un-like that page, the ad preferences still remain the same until you change them. In fact, sometimes really specific things show up in your ad preferences, even if you’ve never liked that page before. It says “You have this preference because you liked a page related to…”
Do You Let Facebook Serve Custom Adverts?
So, you may have read all this and decided you don’t really care if Facebook’s giving you custom adverts based on your activity on Facebook. And that’s totally fine. I don’t either.
But perhaps you’re staunchly against Facebook’s precise advertising data being kept on you, and you’re glad you’ve now got the chance to adjust your privacy settings further.
Whatever your take, why not spend a moment telling us all why you do what you do? I’m sure many of us would be happy to be persuaded to change our minds. Let’s have at it in the comments!