An ad pops up that’s right up your alley, or three new articles show up in your feed that are similar to something you’ve just clicked on.
Sometimes it seems like Facebook knows you personally, and that’s because it does. It has algorithms that track what you like, watch and click on. Facebook uses this information to target ads or relevant posts to users on behalf of advertisers.
Remember the story we shared last year about Kelli Burns, a mass communication professor at the University of South Florida, who claimed that Facebook listens to everything you're saying? According to Burns, the reach of Facebook's tracking abilities extends far beyond what the average user might expect, or feel comfortable with. (Click here to read the full story.)
But there is some good news. There are things you can do to stop Facebook from tracking your every move. Keep reading for step-by-step instructions on the settings you need to change now.
1. Stop "behavioral tracking"
Facebook's "behavioral tracking and targeting" tracks your behavior while using the service unless you turn it off. Facebook can also use GPS paired with Wi-Fi and radio signals, beacons, cell towers and partnerships with brick-and-mortar stores to follow you when you're offline too.
The metric is called "Store Visits," and it all boils down to advertising dollars. The data collected about you is used to show marketers how online ads affect in-store purchases. Is that ad you saw on the side of your screen the reason you're shopping in the particular store you're in? That's the answer these marketers are after.
So far, it looks like online ads do correlate to foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores. According to Tech Crunch, one retailer reported that 12 percent of their online ad clicks turned into a visit to the physical store within seven days. That's substantial so you can expect this sort of tracking to explode.
This notion is also fueled by ads that can connect you to the physical store, aptly called the "Store Locator."
Fortunately, you can opt-out. You never know who else might have access to this data of where you go, when you go there and what you do when you get there.
How to opt out
From your Facebook profile, click on the drop-down menu in the upper right side (to the right of Find Friends).
Choose Settings >> select Ads from the left-hand side of the page >> Edit each Yes >> select either Choose Setting >> Off, or turn Yes to No.