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How to Mess With Your Facebook Targeted Ad Preferences

 

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Have you ever looked through your advertising preferences on Facebook? It’s pretty hilarious, and also more than a bit creepy, to scroll through and see what topics and products Facebook thinks you’re interested in. You can find out what behavior they’ve been tracking by using this tutorial by The Daily Dot, which explains how to find your ad-tracking settings within the site.

By default, Facebook has ads curated for you based on your “online interest,” which is a euphemism for saying that they’re data mining. Facebook tracks your internet browsing activity in other tabs and uses that information to decide what shows up in the targeted ads. They’ve got this setting on by default, but you can switch it off if you want Facebook to stop doing that.

Regardless of whether or not you decide to make any changes to these settings, don’t skip out on the opportunity to check out what type of person Facebook thinks you are! You can do this under the “Ads based on my preferences” section, which will whisk you away into another part of Facebook settings once you click on it. That section will show you what types of stuff Facebook thinks you like, and in my case, a lot of it is hilariously inaccurate. The “Sports and Outdoors” section is the most inexplicable, for me, but they’re all filled with weird stuff.

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Some of the advertising preferences made sense to me; Facebook can tell that I’m a big fan of X-Men, for example, so that popped up a gazillion times. But some of the preferences seem completely random. Also, I don’t really want targeted advertising anyway because it feels creepy, so I turned everything off. You can decide what you want to do; you may instead choose to select only the topics and news items that you’re generally interested in, so that Facebook’s ads can actually be targeted towards you, rather than just bizarre guesses based on your internet history. If you want, you can go through every topic and click the “X” mark on the right side of it to remove it from your preferences.

The Daily Dot’s guide also emphasizes the importance of going into your preferences for App permissions on Facebook. I already keep my Facebook Apps very well-curated, so I recognized everything in this section as an App that I had explicitly granted permission to share with my account. That said, it’s still worth clicking on it if you aren’t entirely sure where your data is ending up and which companies might be using it.

It’s annoying that Facebook privacy is yet another chore for people to worry about, but it’s worth devoting a couple of minutes to making sure that your preferences are set up the way you want them to be. Now that you know where to look, it won’t be so bad. Good luck!

(via The Daily Dot, image via Sean MacEntee on Flickr)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).