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Facebook Lets Users Opt Out of Targeted Ads

The social network ratchets up its advertising program while simultaneously giving users more control over it.
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Facebook users who are annoyed by the targeted ads that pop up in their News Feed will soon have more control over what they see.

Like Google, Facebook collects all kinds of information on its users and uses that information to serve up targeted ads. For example, if you “Like” Beats headphones, you might start seeing ads for other Beats products and headphones from other companies.

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For some people, especially privacy advocates, it seemed a little creepy to have a social network tracking a user’s activity and then using that data to sell them stuff. On Thursday, Facebook announced that users will soon be able to opt out of that targeted ad system through controls in their Web browser and iOS and Android phones.

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Facebook will also show users what information they have collected about them and let them edit the kinds of ads they want to see. If someone is confused about why they are seeing an ad for P.F. Chang's, for example, they can simply click on "Why am I seeing this ad?"

From there, they can see why they are seeing that particular advertisement and remove entire ad categories, like restaurants, from showing up in their News Feed.

This seems like great news for privacy advocates. The problem? Along with more control, Facebook is expanding beyond its own social network to collect "information from some of the websites and apps you use."


Again, Google and many other companies do the same thing. Opting out of the targeted ad system does not mean a user will see less ads — the ads will just not be targeted towards them.

This is the latest in a string of moves by Facebook to boost its ad revenue, including the introduction of video ads and the decision to display fewer, but bigger ads on its website.