Facebook confers everything from political affiliations to your interests in clinical trials based on your likes, comments and posts. Here’s how to view and change the story.
Facebook has you pegged, or at least they think they do. Every time you click a post, like, share, comment, join a group, play a Facebook game or update your status, you’re providing Facebook with information on your interests.
They take this information and sell ad space to advertisers for a tidy sum, so that advertisers whose products sell best with consumers that have your interests can target their ads directly to you.
They also sometimes get it wrong. I was surprised to see that Facebook had determined that I have a like for horror fiction, clinical trials, traffic tickets and they had even assigned me to a political party. All of that ‘information’ they had collected about me was false and I swiftly removed it from my ad preferences.
So why does it matter that Facebook is analyzing you?
Privacy and security.
Facebook ads show up in a number of places, not just on Facebook feeds, groups or videos; they also show up on Instagram, Messenger, and their Audience Network that shows ads on mobile apps and websites, desktop websites, and connected TV.
The more they can target directly to you, the more likely it is that you’re going to click something that looks interesting, which could end up taking you to a fake website that the ad creators set up to look real.
These fake websites sell everything from clothes and shoes to magazines and trips that you pay for, but never receive. A few years ago, it was quite common to receive pop-ups on websites promising prizes that only required a little information from you such as your name, email address and phone number. These sites are phishing for your information.
Thankfully, there are steps that you can take to adjust or even remove which types of ads you see on Facebook.
Make sure you’re logged into Facebook on a desktop. Now go to https://www.facebook.com/ads/preferences. You can remove any information that Facebook has collected about you there. Make sure to go down to ‘Your interests’ and ‘Your categories’ to see specifics that Facebook has gleaned about you based on your interests. Roll over the ones you’d like to remove and click the ‘X’ located to the right. If you’d rather not receive targeted ads at all, you can click the ‘X’ on all of the boxes they’ve designated for you.
You can adjust your preferences at any time, so remember to check back in the future to see if Facebook has added any additional boxes for you, and to remove any that don’t fit.
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