The next time you log in to Facebook, you might see a notification letting you know the company is “improving” advertising and giving users more control. To translate from Facebookese: The company will now be tracking your browsing and activity on third-party sites and applications to serve you up even more personalized ads. 

Facebook currently displays ads it thinks you’ll be more likely to engage with based on your Page likes and other personal information you share with Facebook. But soon in the U.S., Facebook will use data from websites you visit and applications you use to serve you up ads it thinks are relevant based on what you do off of Facebook.

So if you’ve been shopping online for a crib, Facebook will likely think you’re expecting a baby, and will show you Facebook ads for things like toys, clothes, and other items a new parent might need.

While Facebook provides options to opt-out of being tracked for advertising, it won’t honor do not track requests on browsers. This means, if you have selected “Ask websites not to track me,” on Safari, or “Send a “Do Not Track” request with your browsing traffic,” on Chrome, Facebook will ignore it. 

Instead, Facebook says you can avoid of this type of ad targeting through the Digital Advertising Alliance, which gives Internet users the ability to opt out of tracking from 115 participating companies. Of course, that opt-out process is slow and only works on the browser you’re using at the time you visit that page. And if you erase all your cookies for any reason, you’ll also inadvertently opt back into ad tracking.

Facebook will honor do-not-track settings on iOS and Android devices. According to a Facebook spokesman, the company doesn’t honor do-not-track requests from browsers because there is no set industry standard. For instance, Twitter honors them, while Google does not. 

“We’ll continue to work actively with privacy advocates, regulators, and others in to build a consensus around what companies should do if they receive a signal like this,” a spokesman said in a statement.

Ad Transparency

Facebook is broadening its net to catch more personalized information, but it’s also giving users a bit more control over what advertisements they’ll see. A new tool called “ad preferences” accessible from each ad on Facebook will tell you why you’re seeing an ad, and allow you to edit your interests. 

For instance, if the crib you bought online was for a cousin, you can remove “babies” from your ad interests. If you’d rather see ads for travel deals, you can add that to your interests instead. 

By tracking your activity off Facebook, the company will now know even more about what your interests are, without you sharing them first. 

Image courtesy of nolifebeforecoffee on Flickr