UPDATE: Within a week of my posting this article, Facebook started pushing its new privacy settings, which are showing to users that are logging into their profiles. The most important change is the shortcut to the privacy menu, which now appears in the main toolbar on the top of Facebook. Furthermore, it is now easier for users to set individual settings and check who can access their photos and various other data inside their profiles. And now back to my regular post.
Facebook has become one of those sites that people love and hate at the same time. It’s a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends and to reconnect with people you haven’t seen in years. At the same time, it’s one of the most invasive websites out there in regards to privacy.
Most people don’t realize the steps that Facebook takes to target their ads at the right person. Every scrap of personal information you publish is available to them for this use, unless you take steps to keep that from happening. It takes more than some nebulous statement posted on your status about how everything you post is “private and owned by you.” That’s laughable. Don’t fall for that ruse. When you clicked the “I agree” box during your initial sign up with Facebook, you voided that right. All that’s left to you is to attempt to control how they use the information you gave up as a member of Facebook.
The settings are there, hidden deep within your account settings. You still have the ability to assert some level of control. Facebook makes it as hard as possible to find them. Nothing stays the same for long. Menu options change. Locations of settings change. To quote a famous character, “it’s tricksy.”
The following information is borrowed from an article by Kim Komando and the original article can be found here. I will quote her throughout, make a couple of corrections (even the Digital Goddess makes mistakes), and add some pictures.
The article arose from a question asked on Kim’s show, and it’s something you’ve probably experienced yourself. If you use a smartphone to access Facebook, you may have noticed that Facebook has started inserting promoted ads within your timeline, just as they have always done on the right sidebar of a normal browser. Look closely and you’ll see that some of your friends “Like” whatever the ad is pushing. In many cases, you know there is no way in the world that this person would like that particular thing. So what’s going on?
As Kim says,
“In the past, you might have liked that restaurant’s page on Facebook. It could have been years ago or you might have just forgotten. Now, that restaurant has purchased a Facebook ad advertising its sushi. Even though you never claimed to like a particular dish at the restaurant, your name will pop up if your friends see the ad. This is the same reason you might see ads with your friends’ names on them.”
While it would be nice if Facebook cleared the ad with people who liked the page, that will probably never happen. Instead, you can opt out of Facebook attaching your name to any ads.
Click the upside-down triangle in the top-right corner of your Facebook profile. Go to Account Settings
Now select Facebook Ads (pic).
Click “Edit” in the Ads & Friends section and choose “No one” in the drop down menu.
While you’re there, you should adjust the settings in the Third Party Sites tab, too. This will stop the same thing from happening if Facebook starts using your profile on other sites.
Your friends might still see your name on some sites that have a Facebook widget. To stop this, click the upside-down triangle and select Privacy settings.
Choose Edit Settings on the Ads, Apps, and Websites menu.
Look for “How people bring your info to apps they use” and click Edit Settings.
Uncheck every box that is checked.
While you’re there, click Edit Settings in the Instant personalization tab.
Close the Window that pops up. Then, uncheck the box that says “Enable instant personalization on partner websites” and then click confirm. You will get a warning message telling you something about an Internet rumor claiming this is a bad setting. Ignore and uncheck anyway.
Kim Komando has written a book about Facebook privacy and you can find it here.
This information was written in mid-December of 2012. If you are reading this article months or years later, the settings will most likely still be available but you may have to search a bit for them. No doubt Facebook will move them before too long.
What do you think? Helpful? If Facebook to intrusive? Let me know… leave a comment. Thanks!