Services & Software

Stop Facebook's targeted ads from stalking you around the Internet

Facebook will now show you ads based on your Facebook preferences both on and off of the site. Oh, and it will also show its ads to non-Facebook users. OMG, Facebook, boundaries!

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Facebook is now using your Facebook ad preferences -- your information, interests and browsing history -- to show you targeted ads both on and off of Facebook.

And for those of you patting yourself on the back for staying off Facebook, not so fast -- Facebook is also tracking you (through your browser) and using that information to serve up targeted ads across the Web.

Last week, in a blog post titled Bringing People Better Ads, Facebook outlined its new advertising strategy, which involves expanding its Facebook Audience Network beyond just Facebook users. Facebook Audience Network ads will now be shown to everyone, including people who do not have a Facebook account. Because Facebook cannot track non-Facebook users through Facebook, they'll be tracking them through their browser. As shocking as this may sound, this is actually a common strategy implemented by most of the large advertising companies (including Google).

If you're not too keen on Facebook using your information to serve up ads on every site you visit, that's understandable. And you can now opt out of this with a quick Facebook settings tweak.

An important note: This will not stop Facebook from gathering intel on you, nor will it stop you from seeing ads altogether. Facebook will still gather intel, it just won't use said intel to show you ads. You'll still see ads, they just may not be relevant to your interests (or, what Facebook thinks your interests are).

Here's how to do it:

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Click this link to go directly to the Facebook Ads settings page (you may need to sign in to Facebook). To get there manually, open Facebook and click the down arrow in the upper right corner and go to Settings, then click the Ads tab in the left menu.

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Next to Ads on apps and websites off of the Facebook Companies, click Edit and change your preference to No.

While you're here, we recommend opting out of Facebook's other ad-tracking "features." Turning off the setting Ads based on my use of websites and apps will stop Facebook from serving you interest-based ads on Facebook, while turning off Ads with my social actions will stop other people from seeing ads paired with your social actions (liking, commenting or sharing).

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

You can also see what preferences and interests Facebook thinks you have by clicking this link. To remove an interest, hover over it and click the X button that appears on the right side.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

If you're not a Facebook user, you can stop Facebook and other advertising companies (including Google, Amazon, AOL, and Yahoo) from showing ads based on your browsing history by opting out via the Digital Advertising Alliance. To do this, click this link, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click Choose all companies. You will need to do this for each browser you use.