July 26, 2014

Facebook will allow users to alter their ad profiles; track your smartphone usage

Image Credit: New York Times

Have you ever wondered why Facebook just showed you an advertisement for Star Trek toys or some other random item? Well apparently you will soon be able to find out.

Facebook is planning to announce Thursday that it will allow users to see the likes and interests it keeps on them. Not only will Facebook allow users to see it, but users will also have the ability to keep, change, or add information into those files. A nice feature that Facebook is including is if you do not like specific ads you are seeing, you will have the opportunity to tell Facebook what type of marketing messages you would rather see.

In a way, as the New York Times points out, this is actually pretty smart business for Facebook. Online advertisements are all about being directed towards your target audience. What is a better way to directly collect information to advertise to potential customers than to have them tell you what they do or do not want to see.

Facebook’s motives may be a preventive measure seeing how the Federal Trade Commission and the White House have recently called on Congress to pass legislation to protect consumers’ private data. Add that to increasing privacy concerns that companies like Google are seeing in Europe and you could see why Facebook is attempting to stay one step ahead of growing regulation.

At the current time, Facebook only uses information that it gets from interactions on Facebook, like by clicking “Like” on the AndroidGuys Facebook page (yes, that was a hint). That is changing though as the new abilities will bring about new tracking as Facebook hopes to improve it’s targeting by tapping into the data it collects from people’s smartphones and websites they visit.

Users can opt out of the extensive tracking by visiting a special ad industry website and by adjusting their mobile device settings to do so.

While other big Internet companies like Google and Yahoo let users see, change, or block some of the dossiers that they use to deliver ads, Facebook will be the first major Internet company to show how they connect the dots from your likes and interests to the ad displayed on the screen. You can do this by clicking the tiny arrow on the top right corner of any ad you see in the Facebook network.

The question remains, now that Facebook is opening the doors so you can see what is stored and how they relate that information to you personally, how does this make the you feel about the data that is being stored about you? It is probably fair to say that Facebook knows more about you than your closest friend or loved one.

Source: New York Times