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3 Facebook settings you need to change right now

It’s OK to have mixed feelings about Facebook. On one hand, it keeps you connected with friends, family and local businesses and events. On the other, it’s hard to argue Facebook really has your privacy or your best interests at heart.

One complaint that we hear over and over again at is how using Facebook can make you feel like you’re being followed. We’re not talking about your friends and family following you, but that unsettling feeling that advertisers are tracking your every move across the web. Tap or click here to see exactly what Facebook knows about you.

In reality, Facebook does keep tabs on your activities and interests to build a data profile it can sell to advertisers. We’ll show you how to tighten up your privacy and ad settings in just a few steps.

Yes, ads are following you on Facebook

The bothersome ads we’re talking about are called targeted ads, and you can put a stop to them. Facebook offers up an explainer on how it serves up ads based on your activity through Facebook and Instagram, as well as your visits to other websites like online retailers. Those factors include:

  • The pages you and your friends like
  • Information you have added to your Facebook and Instagram profile
  • Your location, including where you connect to the internet and use your phone
  • The places you check into using Facebook
  • Sites you visit that use Facebook’s data tools
  • Information you share with businesses through Facebook, like your phone number or email address

Now that you know what’s going on, let’s tweak your settings and take the target off your back.

Tap or click here to see how taking a break from Facebook can actually make you feel better

1. Adjust your Facebook ad preferences

These instructions use Facebook’s desktop website, but you can also access ad preferences through your Facebook app. From the site, click the on the downward arrow in the upper corner and click on Settings. Click on Ads on the left side. This opens the “Your ad preferences” page.

Let’s start with the Your Interests section. Click on this to see a list of topics Facebook thinks you’re interested in based on your activity. You can hide ads associated with an interest by hovering over it and clicking on the “X” in the box.

Once you’ve gone through Interests, check out the Advertisers section. This works just like Interests. You can choose to hide ads from particular advertisers, which is useful if you’re annoyed by a particular ad popping up all the time in your feed.

2. Tweak the information Facebook uses to target ads

The next section on tap is called Your information. This is the data Facebook uses to help advertisers target ads at you. The categories include relationship status, employer, job title and education.

The toggle switches on the side let you choose whether or not to allow advertisers to use these. Feel free to turn them all off. Also, take a peek at Your categories in this same section. You can nix these as well by clicking on the “X.”

Tap or click here to find out how to restrict Facebook’s access to your phone number

3. Adjust your Facebook ad settings

Next, click on the Ad settings section to expand it. This is where you can make substantial changes to get rid of that unsettling “I’m being followed by ads” feeling.

Ads based on data from partners: If you already see the words “Not allowed” here, then you’re good to go. Otherwise, expand this setting. It controls, in Facebook’s words, “ads based on data we receive from partners about your offline activity.” In the drop-down box, choose “Not allowed.”

Ads based on your activity on Facebook Company Products that you see elsewhere: This section applies to websites, apps and devices that use Facebook’s services to serve up ads outside the social media platform itself. This is why you might see the same ads lurking on both Facebook and seemingly unrelated websites. Look for the drop-down menu at the bottom and select “Not allowed.”

Ads that include your social actions: This setting lets you control whether or not Facebook can use your activity in ads aimed at other people. For example, a Facebook friend might see an ad for a page that you’ve liked. The two options in the drop-down menu here are “Only my friends” or “No One.”

There’s one final section to your ad preferences settings. “Hide ad topics” lets you block ads related to the potentially sensitive topics of alcohol, parenting, pets and politics. You can choose to hide these for six months, a whole year or permanently.

While some people are choosing to ditch Facebook, it may not make sense if that’s where your friends and family virtually congregate. If you’re in the “stay” camp, you can make using it much less creepy by adjusting your advertising preferences.

Following these steps won’t completely stop ads, but at least you won’t see the same pair of shoes tracking your every move, begging you to buy them.

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