Facebook will provide targeted ads tracking your web experience

Pierluigi Paganini June 14, 2014

Facebook announced that it will improve targeted ads tracking much more of users’ web experience and web browsing, but you can avoid this

The social network Facebook revealed that it will use information from users’ web browsing and app history for making Ads better and giving people more control over the ads they see.
We have a long debated about the necessity to control the exposure on the social networks, discussing about the possible impact on the user’s privacy, this news is another questionable decision by Facebook.

I’m not surprised that Facebook collects data of more than a billion users exactly like any other companies, but the statement hides many pitfalls because the company will to deliver ‘targeted Ads on its service have to keep note of the overall user web experience.

Facebook, to provide targeted ads, needs to track every website the user visits, even if it isn’t Facebook website.

Today, we learn about your interests primarily from the things you do on Facebook, such as Pages you like. Starting soon in the US, we will also include information from some of the websites and apps you use. This is a type of interest-based advertising, and many companies already do this.
Facebook can track user online activity every time he “LIKE”, “Recommend”, “Share” websites across the web. Any website with a Facebook buttons and any website that allows user to login with the Facebook account stores information on user web browsing
in his browser, and Facebook is able in every moment to access to this information, whether users click a “like” button on any website or not.
Facebook ads track users
Let’s imagine user is planning to acquire a gaming console and his comparing the price on different websites, Facebook is tracking him, even if he is using a mobile app or a desktop, and it is able to serve Ads specific to help him find the best price.
The real problem is that this kind of activities manages numerous much more data of the product of interest, they usually keep trace of personal information, location, habits, and much more.
I discussed something similar in a previous post which discussed about an interesting research on the data collected by health and fitness apps. In the specific case The Federal Trade Commission debated on the privacy ramifications of consumer generated and controlled health data, following data on mobile apps.
Facebook companies provided the following description of the new feature in the  Terms of Service:

We and our affiliates, third parties, and other partners (“partners”) use these technologies for security purposes and to deliver products, services and advertisements, as well as to understand how these products, services and advertisements are used. With these technologies, a website or application can store information on your browser or device and later read that information back.

Fortunately, it is possible to stop Facebook to share user web experience and to avoid that third-party website send user data to Facebook. The Digital Advertising Alliance website allows users to discover the companies customizing Ads for user’s website, you will be impressed by the number of companies that manage your data.
Facebook ads track users 2
Click Facebook and then hit ‘submit‘ button Facebook will be no more able to use your browser data.
Also mobile users could decide to keep private their web browsing, as explained by the colleagues at THEHACKERNEWS portal:
  • If you own an iphone, open settings and go to General->Restrictions->Advertising, and then click “Limit Ad Tracking.”
  • If you own an Android Smartphone, go to Google Settings->Ads->Opt Out of Interest-Based Ads and click, you are done.

The defense policy will be increasingly difficult, but know who and how handles our data is crucial.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –  Facebook, privacy)  

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