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Facebook Lets Users Opt Out of Targeted Ads 97

Posted by timothy
from the all-twinkies-and-trucks-for-me dept.
mpicpp (3454017) writes Facebook users who are annoyed by the targeted ads that pop up in their News Feed will soon have more control over what they see. Like Google, Facebook collects all kinds of information on its users and uses that information to serve up targeted ads. For some people, especially privacy advocates, it seemed a little creepy to have a social network tracking a user's activity and then using that data to sell them stuff. On Thursday, Facebook announced that users will soon be able to opt out of that targeted ad system through controls in their Web browser and iOS and Android phones. Facebook will also show users what information they have collected about them and let them edit the kinds of ads they want to see. If someone is confused about why they are seeing an ad for P.F. Chang's, for example, they can simply click on "Why am I seeing this ad?"
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Facebook Lets Users Opt Out of Targeted Ads

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  • by ITEM-3 (3348273) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:02PM (#47224325)
    So really, nothing's changed.
    • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:23PM (#47224475)

      Yes it has. They're appearing to be doing something about protecting privacy, so they don't get sued/fined in countries where they have real privacy laws.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Not to troll, but you really believe Facebook is doing something good here? So the ads bother you but not them collected data, which has been rumored to collect data about you while you browse other web sites after your logged in or out of Facebook! And by the way, how many times have we heard this opt out bulls**t only to find out their really is no opt out, your only 'option' is to try and limit their attempts to collect data or send you targeted ads!

        Your post makes things sound like there all better, we

    • by bhcompy (1877290) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:36PM (#47224557)
      Actually, things have changed. As part of this announcement they also announced that they will be digging through your browser history in order to provide more targeted ads, rather than just mining what you do through their website and websites that track for them
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by sh00z (206503)

        Actually, things have changed. As part of this announcement they also announced that they will be digging through your browser history in order to provide more targeted ads, rather than just mining what you do through their website and websites that track for them

        At last, a reason to keep Opera on my computer.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Same for Google. They have no problem selling your data off to anyone with a few bucks. You are the product.

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:04PM (#47224337) Homepage

    Facebook is notorious for making the "opt out" icons invisible until you mouse over them. Opting out in Facebook is like playing one of those old Flash games where you mouse around the screen, trying to find the hot spot that will accept a click. Are they going to do that again?

    • Opting out in Facebook is like playing one of those old Flash games where you mouse around the screen, trying to find the hot spot that will accept a click.

      At first I thought you wrote "Flesh games", but realized the rest of the sentence makes sense either way. (Gotta get my Dyslexia checked and, obviously, cut down on the 4chan.)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Or not work at all. I turned off "Auto-Play Videos" but a couple months later they started doing it again even though the option is still turned off.

    • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:33PM (#47224539)

      Opting out in Facebook is like playing one of those old Flash games where you mouse around the screen, trying to find the hot spot that will accept a click. Are they going to do that again?

      Doubtful, since this isn't actually "opting out" of anything.

      From TFA:

      Facebook will also show users what information they have collected about them and let them edit the kinds of ads they want to see.

      In other words, this is mostly a system for you to tell Facebook what you want to see. You're not actually getting rid of ads, but rather giving Facebook MORE personal information to tailor them to you. Again from TFA:

      [Users] can see why they are seeing that particular advertisement and remove entire ad categories, like restaurants, from showing up in their News Feed. [snip] Opting out of the targeted ad system does not mean a user will see less ads -- the ads will just not be targeted towards them.

      This isn't really "opting out." It's allowing you to give Facebook more information about yourself to Facebook so it can better target the ads it shows you.

      Essentially, it's Facebook saying, "Gee, we haven't gathered enough personal info from you already, so we'll let you tell us more explicitly, rather than gleaning it from your 'likes' and posts. This will give us more ad revenue because we won't waste as much time showing you stuff you really don't want to see, thereby increasing our click-through rate on ads."

      Why would Facebook hide this feature? It's not getting rid of anything. It's obviously designed to increase the efficiency of their ad delivery system, which will probably increase ad revenue.

      (And yes, it seems like theoretically you could "opt-out" of ALL personalized ads, in which case it's likely the random stuff Facebook will show you will be even weirder and more annoying than it already is, since it will have no relationship to your potential interests whatsoever.)

      • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:53PM (#47224675)

        What I said in my previous post is verified in Facebook's actual press release [fb.com]. If you watch the video, this is what the guy says:

        You can make adjustments to the types of ads you see. To tell us how you feel about an ad, just click the top right corner of the ad, and click or tap on "Why am I seeing this ad?" From there you can learn more about the ad and update your preferences. The number of ads you see won't change, but because we'll know more about what you like, they'll be more relevant.

        That's the whole point of this. It isn't mainly for people to opt-out of targeted advertising. It's Facebook asking you to help them in targeting their ads better.

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        That really wont work either. What if the majority of people decide they only want to see pretty holiday ads as definite break for the dull routine of a regular working day. Doesn't mean they will just go on all those holidays they'll just breath a sign of relief as they day dream about them. Now what about all the other advertisers that have been cancelled out of existence, will they pay Facebook not for ads but just for being considered for ads by users. They are all still avoiding the major issue, the h

        • by Znork (31774)

          The whole personalized ads gimmick is a worthless exercise for exactly the reasons you mention. From a marketing view, knowing that someone is interested in something is irrelevant compared to knowing when someone is interested in something. That is why it's much better to target contents rather than viewers, when someone is browsing a content then they're actually interested in related things at that point in time.

          Facebook is the creepy salesguy sitting down at your table and trying to sell you something w

    • by phrostie (121428)

      to opt out at facebook add the following line to your hosts file:

      127.0.0.1 www.facebook.com

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >Opting out in Facebook is like playing one of those old Flash games where you mouse around the screen, trying to find the hot spot that will accept a click.

      Copying Windows 8's UI, no doubt.

  • by BenFenner (981342) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:04PM (#47224341)

    opt out of that targeted ad system through controls in their Web browser and iOS and Android phones

    Through controls in the browser? How about through controls in the Facebook user interface?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:05PM (#47224347)

    Better solution: don't opt out of the targeted ads. Opt out of Facebook entirely.

    The business model of harvesting personal data for profit succeeds only with the cooperation of the public. Stop cooperating, and it'll stop working.

    • by Entropius (188861)

      Social networks are useful. It's about time we wrote and popularized a distributed one, hosted on our own machines rather than dependent on some group of folks to whom we are products, not customers.

      • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:59PM (#47224731)

        Social networks are useful. It's about time we wrote and popularized a distributed one, hosted on our own machines rather than dependent on some group of folks to whom we are products, not customers.

        Diaspora is dead, dude - just get over it.

      • by 228e2 (934443)
        Please. Go right ahead. You wont last nearly as long as FB has because things cost money
        Oh boo hoo, you have to suffer through a few ads to use something for free. I guess everyone forgot or was not around for the first 5+ years of ad free FB.
        If you want to leave your personal information off of facebook then GET OFF OF FACEBOOK. Don't cry like entitled children because I am sure no one here works for free.
      • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:59PM (#47225121)

        Social networks are useful. It's about time we wrote and popularized a distributed one, hosted on our own machines rather than dependent on some group of folks to whom we are products, not customers.

        Email lists.

  • The way the article is worded, it sounds like Facebook is merely using the Do Not Track header. However, from what I understand, they already honor Do Not Track and are one of the few websites that do. Is this merely teaching their users how to enable DNT, or are they planning some other browser-based solution specifically for Facebook?

  • Stalking ads (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:09PM (#47224385)
    What I see quite commonly these days are "stalking" ads. I watch some products and when I navigate to other sites, advertisements for those products haunt me absolutely everywhere.
    • No mom, I have no idea why we keep getting these popups for Astroglide. Can we please get back to paying your phone bill?

    • by romco (61131)

      Welcome to "remarketing"

    • The buzzword for this is "retargeting", and it can reportedly be very effective.

      To give a somewhat balanced view, like most forms of targeted advertising, it can also be better for the person seeing the ad, in the sense that if they're going to see an ad anyway then it might as well be for something they might actually be interested in.

      Personally, I have no moral problem with Facebook showing ads targeted based on the freely declared details and interests of its users. The users chose to provide that inform

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      What I see quite commonly these days are "stalking" ads. I watch some products and when I navigate to other sites, advertisements for those products haunt me absolutely everywhere.

      So the solution to that, sadly, is to run several different browsers for various purposes.

      My Facebook account is a made up name, and only accessed in a browser which only ever visits Facebook. AdBlock and Ghostery block the unwanted crap (they couldn't show me an ad if they wanted).

      All my other browsers basically reject traffic f

    • by akozakie (633875)

      Yeah, been there, seen that. Yes, I googled for a stationary bike. Guess what, I bought it. No matter how many times you show me an ad, I'm not going to buy another (at least until this one breaks).

      I do not have a Facebook account, but I'm sceptical about targeting. Not just because I'm allergic to stalking (I might be). Just because I've seen it and it doesn't work. I mean Youtube.

      I have to clean some youtube cookies every couple of weeks. I view sufficiently different content, that the algorithms they us

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The problem I see with so called targeted ads is that they are not targeted, only annoying. So the fact that I put "single" on my relationship status does not mean I want to see 4 ads for online dating sites. If online dating worked, I'd not be single, would I? Goes for a lot of other type of ads too, obviously. So I've started to "sub"-consciously block out ads - so even ones that would interest me, I usually overlook.

    The other thing with ads is that I never EVER click on them. For the few instances where

    • The other thing with ads is that I never EVER click on them.

      Perhaps the way to "solve" this is for everyone to click on all the ads, all the time, polluting their database. But I don't know, I don't have a FB account...

    • For the few instances where one does in fact interest me, I mouse-over and look at the target URL. Then I open a new window and type it in.

      You're certainly not alone in that. When I've seen Facebook campaigns running, it's not unusual to have a spike in visits originating directly from Facebook but also spikes in direct traffic and in visits via a search engine looking for the name of the product/company/whatever.

  • "Don't be Google".

  • Fake your data (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zed Pobre (160035) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:15PM (#47224419)

    I discovered that if you fake your birthplace, workplace, and university to a country which doesn't primarily use Roman lettering, you get an advertisement bar mostly consisting of completely unintelligible script. It's almost as good as an ad-blocker.

    If I ever get free time, I may go back and poke more at that script I started which takes random public Facebook and Twitter posts, feeds them into dadadodo, and then posts them as hidden to everyone except a list that only has fake alternate Facebook accounts in it.

    We can't stop them from gathering data, but we can chaff it so badly that it's worthless.

    • by Ksevio (865461)
      But then you're also making facebook useless for you/your friends.

      You could just stop using it in which case they wouldn't be able to collect data as easily and you wouldn't have to do the extra work.
      • by Zed Pobre (160035)

        Both statements are incorrect. The only people who will ever see the fake posts are the fake accounts and the tracking code, and what you have down for physical location is really irrelevant for people communicating with you online. If they're actually friends, they'll know what's false or flatly implausible.

        As for the second statement, avoiding Facebook does not prevent your name and photos of you from being placed on it by other people. Unless you are religiously using RequestPolicy or Ghostery or some

        • by Ksevio (865461)

          . If they're actually friends, they'll know what's false or flatly implausible.

          But isn't the point of putting the information up to inform the people that wouldn't know what's false? Making the assumption that putting information up is useful, you're not gaining the use out of that if you put false information up.

          • by Zed Pobre (160035)

            I never saw any point to that location information at all, actually. Facebook as a means of performing mass interactive communication with a social group at least has utility. City location isn't precise enough to have people come visit or uniquely identify someone with a common name.

    • by antdude (79039)

      I always fake my data. Facebook hates it so much that I got kicked off after a few weeks. :(

  • by Unordained (262962) <unordained_slash ... @pseudotheos.com> on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:16PM (#47224423) Homepage

    I'd like to opt out of the untargeted ads. I don't so much mind relevant, possibly-useful advertising -- I don't feel like it wastes my time so much, or even, in a way, creepily insinuates I would be interested in things I'm totally not. As long as the targeted advertising is done right, I'd rather have it. The more accurate such advertising gets, the more value-per-print it can generate, and therefore the less overall advertising will be required to sustain the "free" services we use. One well-chosen ad is worth dozens of spammy ones.

    Or ... could we get the big advertising systems to allow us to pay them, centrally, to remove ads across all the sites they print on? And have them just forward a portion of the money to the sites themselves, just as they would have paid them to print an equivalent number of ads, while serving me nothing but 1px placeholders?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Problem I noticed with targeted ads is that they were almost all for things I just purchased online. These ads follow me until I buy something else. Targeted ads are ok but this pissed me off more than random ads considering they DO catch your attention, while you are trying to do something else. I quickly installed ad block again after a while of this. I can ignore random crap but I can't ignore pictures of stuff I really like.

    • by GauteL (29207)

      "The more accurate such advertising gets, the more value-per-print it can generate, and therefore the less overall advertising will be required to sustain the "free" services we use. One well-chosen ad is worth dozens of spammy ones."

      That is just frighteningly naive. Surely you understand that more value-per-print does not mean less advertising, but simply more profit?

      • Competition. Invisible Hand. Selective pressure from consumers who don't want a site with 80% screen real-estate devoted to ads, and subconsciously choose to spend their time on sites with (for whatever reason) fewer, better ads.
        There are obviously limits and pressures already at play, or every site would be nothing but a wall of ads, because "more profit."

  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:20PM (#47224445)

    For some people, especially privacy advocates, it seemed a little creepy to have a social network tracking a user's activity and then using that data to sell them stuff.

    What else do you think a social network is going to do? Unless you're paying to be a member, it's naive to think the won't sell your data.

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:22PM (#47224459)
    Just to be explicit about it... when Facebook speaks of tracking users, Facebook means that they track your activities not only on Facebook, but also other non-Facebook sites. If you see a Facebook "like" button on a site, there's a very good probability that your activity on that site is reported back to Facebook.

    .
    imo, Ghostery [ghostery.com] is very helpful in this scenario.

  • Adblock, NotScripts, and Ghostery on Chrome takes care of it all.
  • If you want to opt out you have to enable accepting ALL FIRST AND ALL THIRD PARTY COOKIES!!!! Why should we have to make ourselves vulnerable to every other tracking network just to opt out of theirs? Why don't they just honor the do not track flag in your browser? I'll tell you why they are going to track you like it or not. If not through their system they will do it through a shell company.
  • Adblocker plus on Firefox = no ads EASY!
    • by CauseBy (3029989)

      Yep. So far I've never seen an ad on Facebook. I don't know if I'd use it if I did, but I might be willing to pay one dollar a month for it.

  • by Xicor (2738029) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:18PM (#47224859)

    ive been using adblock for years.... facebook has more ads that it blocks than any other website ive seen.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is indeed the best option to opt out of all targeted (and non-targeted) ads. Just block them, don't even load them!

  • Facebook Purity - now "F.B. Purity" or "Fluff Busting Purity" is the answer for me.

    Socially speaking, my friends and family are holding the Facebook gun to my head. If I want to show up on game night and not be the odd man out, I need to respond to event invites. If I want to invite my friends to things, I need to invite them there. It's *the* calendar management app for them.

    A while ago, people stopped sharing actual photos on Facebook, and started sharing and endless stream of eGreetings and "my politi

  • I only ever browse FB in a firefox private window with script/ad/flash block and ghostery. Then I logoff FB and close the private window. On andriod I use TinFoil for FB.

  • Looking at the ads on facebook, they seem to be doing a remarkably bad job of targeting.

    Because I'm in Germany, they're all in German. The fact that I post in English and most of my friends live in England doesn't seem to be a factor in targeting. The first ad is something to do with football of BASF (are they sponsoring the world cup or something?) I also get an online casino and an ad for Law and Order DVDs.

    If they were actually something that might tempt me I'd be a lot happier. Unlike most people,
  • I think it's funny how often these 'targeted ads' show me the exact thing I was just looking at. Seeing something I just looked at doesn't really make me want to buy it more.
  • I wonder if I can get it configured to serve me really weird ads for ultra-obscure products. Himalayan llamas. Voodoo dolls. Chastity belts. Or maybe illegal products. Rhino horn. Brass knuckles. Poisonous snakes. I might actually read a few ads like that. Probably wouldn't buy anything though.
  • It seems Facebook has become too big for it's own good. Needs revenue for it's stock price? But maybe there is an alternative I haven't discovered. Do you know of anything remotely similar? Meanwhile here is my personal reply to them regarding the "privacy" under their comments option; I am going to have to turn off facebook because I do not want you serving me ads based on my browsing habits. How much money do your shareholders need anyway? Maybe if I can convince enough people to "like" my rant I can s
  • Ads? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spasm (79260) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:05PM (#47227213) Homepage

    Facebook has ads? Or rather, there are people out there who still don't have adblock installed?

  • by Tom (822)

    Hm, I already have full control over ads on Facebook. It's called AdBlock Edge.

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