Facebook sucks up user’s browsing habits



In an effort to make more money by selling more ads Facebook has announced that they will be collecting your browsing habits and dishing up your digital demographic profile to advertisers.

This should come as no surprise to anyone since Facebook has been charging headlong into the ‘tailor made advertising audience’ world. Heck, just about everybody has.

Related: Facebook to start selling you

The basic idea is the more information they can gather about you – including what things you search for, what things you buy, which sites you browse, etc. – the better they can build what I call a digital demographic profile. And they can parade those digital demographic profiles in front of advertisers like prize bulls at an auction. It’s a lot like supplying the advertisers with highly-qualified sales leads.

According to Facebook’s Terms of Service:

“We and our affiliates, third parties, and other partners (“partners”) use these technologies for security purposes and to deliver products, services and advertisements, as well as to understand how these products, services and advertisements are used. With these technologies, a website or application can store information on your browser or device and later read that information back.”

Now there are some ways you can block ads served up by Facebook advertisers. They will be rolling out a tool they call ‘ad preferences’ that “explains why you’re seeing a specific ad and lets you add and remove interests that we use to show you ads.”

Of course, as soon as you block one ad it will just be replace with another and another and another…

Related: Facebook ads can now be ‘bandwidth targeted’

And short of using software that hides your identity (or gasp, dumping Facebook altogether) there really isn’t much you can do about them tracking and using your browsing history. Get used to it kids. Even if Facebook doesn’t do it someone else is probably already doing it too. Google admitted that they are recording your voice and sending it back to the mother ship whenever you say ‘OK Google,’ and there are lots of apps that ‘innocently’ ask for permission to access just about everything on your smartphone. (Why exactly does a calculator app need to know your GPS location?)

But we all want to see more ads don’t we? And targeted ads are really cool, right? And we are all eagerly waiting for the day when every ad that pops up in our browser has a personal message just for us.

“High Joe! So sorry to hear that your ass is bothering you. We noticed that you’ve been browsing a lot of medical websites looking for information about hemorrhoids. And we also see that you visited some sites that sell ointment. We just wanted to let you know that you can get an entire case of Bunny’s Butt Balm for the low, low price of $16.95, plus shipping and handling.”



Guy Wright

Guy Wright has been covering the technology space since the days when computers had cranks and networks were steam powered. He has been a writer and editor for many of the most influential publications over the years – publications that helped shape our current technological zeitgeist. He has lost count of the number of articles, blogs, reviews, rants, and books that he has published over the years, but he hasn’t stopped learning and writing about new things.


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