Stop Facebook from Selling Out Your Browsing Data

As we all know, Facebook is never a privacy-friendly place, and it never fails to provoke its users with frequent changes that disregard your privacy. Earlier this June, Facebook stated that its plans to share any and all the data it has collected by tracking your app and browsing history with the third parties and advertisers to show you more relevant ads. So, who is affected by this change? Well, almost everyone who has logged into their Facebook accounts, be it today, last week or last month.

Of course, Facebook has stated several times that they have given users more control over the ads they see, and they also stated that they won’t share any personally identifiable information. But that doesn’t mean they have given you any control over what data Facebook can collect from you or what it will do with the collected data. Previously, Facebook used to serve the ads based on post shares, page likes, post likes, information submitted by the user, and any other data in your Facebook account. But now, Facebook just wants to peek into your app and web browsing history. If you don’t like these changes or if you wish to opt out of this feature, here is how you can do it.

With the recent changes, users can now click on the top right side corner of an ad and can tell Facebook if that displayed ad is relevant to them or not, and users can know why they are seeing that ad in the first place. Using this new feature, they can also tell Facebook which ads they would prefer to see. This greatly increases the relevancy of the ads they see. You can learn more about these changes from Facebook’s newsroom.

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The good thing about this change introduced by Facebook is that you can opt out of it on demand. If you don’t want to share your app and browsing data with third parties, head to Digital Advertising Alliance. Here under the “Companies Customizing Ads For Your Browser” tab, select the check box “Facebook Inc” and click on the “submit your choices” button. Of course, if you want, you can also select any other website(s) that you want to opt out of from interest based ads.

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As soon as you opt out of this feature, Facebook won’t sell or share your app or browsing history data with the third party advertising companies. That said, it doesn’t stop Facebook from collecting your app or browsing history.

However, if you are using a Facebook app on smartphones like Android, then you can opt out of interest-based ads with the instructions here.

It does seem like Facebook stepped a little over the boundaries but giving users a choice to opt out of these interest-based ads is welcoming. So what do you think of these new changes? Do these changes stop you from using Facebook or do you love these changes as you get to receive more relevant ads? Do comment below with your thoughts.

8 comments

  1. People still using Facebook who worry about their privacy is as silly as people who eat at McDonalds everyday complaining about becoming fat. Delete that Facebook/FBI crap and get a real social life again.

    • Ditto!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why broadcast your personal life to the world and then wonder, “how did they know that?” or “where did they get that from?”. Be safe, get outta there.

  2. What, you don’t want to help make the biggest a**hole in the digital universe even richer? Don’t listen to Alwin, people!!! As loyal citizens of wherever you live, it’s your duty to make rich people like him even richer. Besides, why would you want a real social life when you could be clicking on Facebook links and giving the NSA more data cloud-gazing to do instead?

  3. While I agree with Alwin I have a FB account but don’t use it), it’s unfortunate that the app above doesn’t work with the latest version of Firefox for Mac. Almost as useless as FB itself…

    • If you are talking about Digital Advertising Alliance website, then consider turning off your ad blocker on that site (if you have one installed). DAA works that way.

  4. The unauthorized removal of browsing history by Facebook from a computer is an egregious violation of privacy, if not a direct violation of law. As to violation of law, it comes down to a matter of the technique used to gather the date.

    If a user is foolish enough to provide his Facebook identity to a third-party site which then provides the information to Facebook, then all you can say is that being stupid has its own rewards.

    However, the ability to assemble the browsing history is not a standard feature of Web browsers. Tracking this information in real-time requires keystroke logging outside of the Facebook page scope, and retrieving the browser history or cookies directly requires using exploits. Either technique is a violation of law, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in the United States (see 18 U.S.C. § 1030 at http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1030).

    • Good luck winning the case. Remember the Golden Rule – “He who has the gold, makes the rules.” Unless you are the US government, FB will drag the case out until you run out of money and cannot pursue it further. The same method by which M$ destroyed anybody accusing it of stealing technology. (viz. STAC Electronics)

      “The unauthorized removal of browsing history by Facebook from a computer is an egregious violation of privacy”
      Anyone using the Internet de facto gives up their privacy.

      “if not a direct violation of law.”
      Which law and whose interpretation of it? For each law you can cite to support your position, your opposition can cite a different law that contradicts your position. The problem is that contradictory laws concerning the same or similar matter are being passed. On the one hand you have laws that guarantee privacy. but on the other hand you have laws which make a company’s business records accessible to governmental and/or public perusal. In fact, by insisting that anything stored on company’s servers is part of the company’s business records, the US government claims that it has the right to examine any user data stored on Dropbox servers. Today Dropbox, tomorrow all other cloud storage companies.

  5. Seems like someone would want to start and run a social networking website that uses open source coding and guarantees not to collect (let alone sell) personal information not specifically required for operation of the site. That alone could put Facebook on the ropes.

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