Skip to main content

Facebook to create better targeted ads based on Web browsing history

facebook targeted ads web browsing history
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Facebook claims it wants to offer users a better advertising experience. To do so, the social network will use your Web browsing history to send you targeted ads on Facebook. Previously, the company only used information garnered from what you “liked” to attract advertisements for products and services that might interest you. Facebook’s new policy takes targeted advertising to the next level, but it also raises privacy concerns.

As a result of the new policy, Facebook will no longer follow the code of honor established in the do-not-track setting in Web browsers. The tech industry is divided into two camps on the do-not-track policy: Neither Yahoo nor Google honors the policy, but Twitter and Pintrest do. Now, Facebook has joined ranks with those who don’t, and there is sure to be a huge backlash because of it. 

If nothing else, Facebook has learned about damage control from its previous efforts to pry into its users’ private data. In the announcement, Facebook emphasizes that it won’t share your Web browser data or app usage history with advertisers unless you want it to. Users who don’t want their Internet searches and app usage data bandied about between Facebook and advertisers can head to the Digital Advertising Alliance opt-out page to protect their information. If you use the Android or iOS Facebook app, you can also change your settings to disable ad tracking.

In addition to giving users an out, the social network also handed over ad preferences to its users. For example, if you really, really hate getting ads from, you can tell Facebook to never show you that kind of ad ever again. The new ad preferences tool lets users eliminate categories of supposed interest, such as technology, hiking, dating, etc., if they don’t actually like ads from that specific category. You can even add categories of interest if you truly want Facebook to send you tons of tempting ads.

According to Ad Age, targeted ads based on  browsing history will have the blue Digital Advertising Alliance’s “AdChoices” logo stamped in a corner. When you click on the icon, you’ll be able to see a drop-down menu with an explanation of why that particular ad is being displayed and how to stop it from happening. Facebook is at least giving users a choice in the matter, but chances are, most Facebook users won’t even notice the changes, and if they do, they probably won’t change their settings to protect their data (that’s at least what Facebook is hoping for). It is, after all, a long process, and if you’re already letting Google and Yahoo track you, is it really any different?

Editors' Recommendations

Malarie Gokey
Former Digital Trends Contributor
As DT's Mobile Editor, Malarie runs the Mobile and Wearables sections, which cover smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and…
Zuckerberg says it’s not Facebook’s job to worry about misleading political ads
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg leads a conversation on free expression at Georgetown University on October 17, 2019 in Washington, DC. The event was hosted by the university’s McCourt School of Public Policy and its Institute of Politics and Public Service

Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook won't be banning political ads, even if they contain false information, during a speech at Georgetown University on Thursday.

The Facebook CEO argued that political advertising is more transparent on Facebook than anywhere else, and added that political ads are an essential form of free speech. "I don't think it's right for a private company to censor politicians," he said.

Read more
I turned off Facebook’s ad trackers, and the ads only got more personalized
close up of someone deleting the Facebook app off their iPhone

After toggling off all seven of Facebook’s ad tracking and information settings, I resumed my News Feed scroll expecting to be regaled with ads for beef jerky and car insurance. Instead, I realized just how much Facebook knows about me and scrolled past ads that, instead of becoming less relevant, only felt more personalized.

Facebook knows that I’m pregnant. Facebook knows that I’m a photographer. Facebook even knows that I’m currently remodelling my bathroom.

Read more
Facebook launches interactive augmented reality ads that let you try on makeup
Facebook Interactive Ads

Some of the new Facebook ads in action. Facebook

Facebook is rolling out new interactive ads to its News Feed that include augmented reality experiences that let you play games or see how makeup looks on your skin.

Read more