Facebook is a business, like any other. Sure, Facebook is free, but that’s because the users aren’t the customers, they’re the product. Facebook, like Google, makes their money serving up ads. If they can better target those ads, they can get more money from advertisors for them. Therefore, the goal is to gather as much information as is possible on their users. In the past, they’ve used your likes, your favorite books, movies, companies, and music. They also use your friends, location, past education, checkins, and pretty much every personal detail you upload. If it’s information you’ve shared with Facebook or your friends, it’s information Facebook has used to tailor ads for you, and may have been shared with advertisers. Now they’ve moved on to collecting information users have not given them, their web browsing history. This information is collected automatifcally, but fortunately, there’s a way to opt out, even if it isn’t made immediately obvious.
If you’re thinking the solution is as simple as turning on “Do Not Track” settings in your browser, think again. Facebook will not acknowledge this, deciding to track you regardless of your requests. This means Facebook will look into your browsing history and the apps you use, information that could be more revealing than your likes, and information that is collected regardless of how much nformation youve decided to share with Facebook. There is a way to turn it off, and it’s not even a method offered directly by Facebook. In fact, Facebook doesn’t offer any way to opt out of their tracking. However, there are workarounds that can make you impossible to track over time. You’ll want to activate these features on your computer, iOS, Android.
On your computer, head over to the Digital Advertising Aliance Opt Out Form. You’ll need to have third party cookies enabled for it to figure out what’s tracking you, but you can use the form to opt out of Facebook tracking, as well as other advertiser’s tracking.
Then, you should head over to your iOS or Android device. On iOS, turning off tracking is as simple as going into Settings > Privacy > Advertising and turning on Limit Ad Tracking. With “Limit Ad Tracking” turned on, your iOS device will cycle through advertising identifiers, making it impossible to track your device. This can also be done on Android. On Android, you’ll go into the Google Settings app (not the device settings app). There should be a section titled “Ads”. Turn on “Opt out of Internet Based Ads”.
Facebook has tried to violate the privacy of their users in the most invasive way yet. However, companies like Apple and Google, as well as the Digital Advertising Aliance, have created methods to sidestep these intrusions. You may want to consider removing some of the information you have on Facebook as well. Maybe your friends don’t need to know your favorite art, media, and businesses. Perhaps they don’t need to see every check-in either. Although, Facebook certainly wants all of that information.