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Facebook makes it (slightly) easier to opt out of targeted ads

adchoices logoIf you’ve ever spent the day browsing for cheap plane tickets or scouting out the next Angry Birds installment, you’ve probably noticed ads on Facebook lining up with what you’ve been searching for on other sites.

If it seems kind of nefarious and Big Brother-y, that’s because it is: Facebook’s own ads and the ads it serves through its fledgling FBX ad exchange often tailor what they show you based on data they collect, including your ZIP code and browsing history.

The Digital Advertising Alliance came up with an “AdChoices” logo to help people suss out when they’re seeing targeted ads, but up until now, Facebook hasn’t joined in and provided the blue logo to its users.

But Mark Zuckerberg’s social media powerhouse is changing its tune, partially due to pressure from various ad agencies and advertisers. According to AdAge, you’ll soon be able to see which Facebook-administered ads are using your data.

If you drag your mouse over the tiny “x” in the right hand corner above Facebook’s ads, you will see whether or not it’s a pure coincidence the icon shows incredibly discounted airfare to Vegas or if Facebook figured out your plans to hit the strip by mining your data. You probably can’t see it yet if you log on to check it out today, since Facebook still has to update its code, but the change will go into effect by the end of the quarter.

What to do if you want to get rid of targeted ads on Facebook now? Well, as we mentioned, you’ll have to wait to get Facebook itself off your browsing trail, but if you have time and patience, you can get rid of most of its third-party partners by manually clicking over each of their ads.

When you drag your mouse over the upper-right “x” you’ll get a few options: You can hide one individual ad, you can find out more about the ad, or you can hide all advertisements from this particular advertising partner. Click “hide all,” and then prepare to spend an obnoxious chunk of time repeating these steps, because Facebook has a lot of ad partners.

This doesn’t mean you still won’t see ads that hew suspiciously close to your interests elsewhere, but it should minimize the amount you see when you’re cyberstalking your crush on Facebook.

And lest you think all targeted Facebook ads are forged in the fiery den of Satan, we’ll just remind you that a man used ads honing in on his geographic neighbors to find his missing cat.

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