There’s a new (yes, another new) buzz about Facebook privacy settings circling the Internet. What’s the scoop this time?

Well, now you have the option to opt out of the social media mega-giant tracking your behaviours (on Facebook itself) for advertising purposes. Wait, what?

You know those ads you see every time you’re online? The ‘big brotherish’ ones that seem to follow every little step you’ve made online. You’re online browsing toy trains for your toddler, and suddenly every ad seems to have a picture of Thomas (the train) in it. It’s no secret that your web-based behaviours are being tracked. The same is true on Facebook.

As you go along liking, commenting, sharing and posting, Facebook is watching you. They’re collecting information on how you interact and behave as a user (and yes, they can do this perfectly legally – it’s up to you as the user to read and agree with their privacy and data collection statements). In the past few years Facebook has always used the information they’ve gathered on you, as a user, to give you ads.

You’ve always had the option to opt out of the data collection process. But, you haven’t had the option to stop Facebook from using any info they have on you to inform what ads you see. Not only has Facebook been collecting data on what you’re doing with them, but they’ve also been (provided your privacy settings allow it) collecting information on how you use other apps and websites. Through the Facebook Audience Network, Facebook’s reach goes well beyond the social media site.

Recently, Facebook announced new privacy settings that give you greater control over what you do or don’t see. Now you don’t just have the option to opt out of Facebook following your online behaviours, but you can also opt out of getting ads that are based on what you’re browsing, liking, sharing and doing across the Internet. Facebook isn’t getting rid of the old privacy options that you’ve already set. Spokesman for Facebook, Matt Steinfeld, noted, “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.”

Okay, so now you’re probably even more confused than you were before. When it comes down to it, Facebook is now giving you the settings options to manage your ads preferences. This doesn’t mean you have to change anything if you choose. Do you not really care if Facebook follows what you’re doing online and provides ads both on and off of their site that are targeted to what you’re currently searching for, like or are reading up on? If this is the case, you have nothing to do. Facebook’s default setting is ‘yes’ to allow these to happen.

If you are a bit more concerned about what Facebook is doing, collecting and showing to you, now you can make some changes to your privacy settings.

  1.  On the desktop site, on the far right click on the icon of the padlock and choose privacy checkup.

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  1. You’ll see a menu on the left side that includes titles such as general, security, privacy and timeline and tagging. Go down to ‘Adverts’.

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Clicking on this brings up your Facebook Ads menu. Now you can change settings based on the prompts. These include, “Ads based on my use of websites and apps”, “Ads on apps and websites off of the Facebook Companies” (if this is set to yes you can see adds on other apps and sites based on what your Facebook ad preferences are), “Ads with my social actions” and, “Ads based on my preferences”.

facebook-privacyDo you want to know what Facebook thinks you want to look at? Go ahead and click on the “Visit Ad Preferences Box” (it’s under “Ads based on my preferences”). You’ll get a topic-based list of categories with drop-down options for each. Clicking on the drop-down option gives you even more detailed lists of specific pages and preferences. Now try clicking on one of these. You’ll get a pop-up box titled “About This Ad Preference”. It will tell you that Facebook has set this as a preference based on your actions (on their site), ads you’ve already clicked on or pages that you like. You’ll also likely get a list of more preferences that go into even more detail.

Keep two things in mind:

1. Defaults for ad settings are set to ‘yes’, meaning you need to change them if you would like the setting to be ‘no’, and

2. Your Facebook ad settings don’t remove all ads across the Internet. Ads come from many different sources, not just Facebook.

Before you shake your head in disgust, think about the fact that the free content you enjoy wouldn’t be possible without some income source. In most cases, that means ads.

Author

Belinda's a passionate advocate for community and connection. As the founder of the Mum Central Network she’s committed to celebrating the journey that is Australian parenthood. Mum to two cheeky boys, and wife to her superstar husband, they live a busy but crazy lifestyle in Adelaide. Great conversation, close friends and good chocolate are her chosen weapons for daily survival. Oh, and bubbles. Champagne is key.

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