Facebook tracks all users as part of its program to send them targeted adds. It places tracking cookies on your computers and mobile devices to snoop out your location and your online activity.

Once these tracking markers are buried in your computer or mobile device, Facebook can track even those who have turned off their Facebook app. Every time you click a like button or a link in your web browser, Facebook snags your activity and adds it to your advertising profile.

Facebook uses this stash of information about you to send targeted ads to the webpages you visit. Other internet advertisers buy lists of tracked data from numerous suppliers, including social media outlets and websites whose users must log-in.

Facebook recently modified its user settings so you can block much of this tracking activity. You can not turn off ads, but you can stop the flow of targeted ads and just be annoyed with generic advertising.

Click here to see your advertising preferences. You can remove a topic by clicking any x button. Be sure to edit every option. Select NO wherever possible. Otherwise, select the least invasive choices. Remember, your goal is to minimize the flow of data Facebook gets about you as much as possible.

Don’t Count on Do Not Track

You can go beyond Facebook settings to control how websites use your browsing activities. The Digital Advertising Alliance lets you opt out of the tracking programs that the internet’s most determined trackers use.

You can also register on Do Not Track, as well as using the same setting in your web browser. But Facebook and other social network entities do not recognize that protocol.

Mobile devices offer similar options in their web browsers. Your best bet is to turn off the Facebook app and use a web browser to access that and other social network sites. The Facebook app is a resource hog on top of being a tracking magnet. Be sure to vigilantly set all the privacy and security settings available on your smartphone.

Do these two things to protect your privacy on Facebook:

  • Opt out of ad tracking
  • Edit the list of app companies with access to your Facebook account

Turn Off the Digital Flow

Do not make it easy for your digital details to become available to digital dumpster divers. Block as much of the information sharing as you can. For example, when you link your sign-in to a social media site such as Facebook or an internet services company like Google, you hand over lots of information about yourself to other advertisers who then can track you.
Linked log-ons open a side door to your social media profiles. This gives trackers your email address, phone number, school location and work history. If you keep your mobile devices’ location services turned on, you also hand over your current and regular locations.

Who cares? You should. Your shared data spreads to apps your contacts use. That widens the circle of details in your advertising profile.