It’s already bad enough that surfing through your Facebook News Feed is becoming such a chore because of ads the social network thinks you’d be interested in – but then earlier this year, Facebook revealed its intentions to further stretch its ad targeting program by partnering with Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom, and BlueKai. When you surf sites on the Internet or use rewards or loyalty cards when you go shopping in the mall, you unintentionally leave a trace of your consumer habits and information, and these four companies gather that information to help them come up with better targeted advertisements. The partnership with Facebook plans to bring that information to the social networking site so that companies would be able to reach out to the right users, and maybe even lessen the annoyance you feel when you see a product page on your stream you don’t remember liking.
Facebook ads are becoming more predominant these days, and we’ve tried our best to minimize (if not completely opt-out of) seeing them. With the emergence of this initiative shared by Facebook and consumer data brokers, it may become harder to deal with – now that data sourced from outside Facebook is on the table, limiting your personal information on the social network will no longer be enough to get you off the ad radar. So if you want to do everything in your power to stop the Facebook tracking, these are the four places you need to head and opt-out of.
Horsemen opt outs
1. BlueKai. BlueKai is the only one out of the four companies mentioned that doesn’t collect offline consumer data. It does, however, primarily employ tracking cookies to amass information from your online browsing and use this information to assume what products you’d be most interested in. You can very easily opt-out of BlueKai’s information hold on you by installing a browser extension that blocks online tracking. It is highly recommended to block all third-party trackers, not just BlueKai. We’ve covered a few add-ons that you can use, namely DoNotTrackMe, Disconnect, and Ghostery. Additionally, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has a simple how-to on online tracking prevention you can use.
2. Acxiom. Visit Acxiom’s opt-out form if you dislike the idea of your info being used to propagate marketing materials, promos, and additional information about Acxiom products. Services you can sign out of (let’s just ignore the fact that you never signed up to begin with) include mail sent through the postal service, telemarketing, emails, and online advertising. The last service relies on cookies, so bear in mind that when you clear yours, you will have to re-do your last opt-out. Choose “Myself” when asked to certify your identity.
Now here’s the sketchy-but-necessary part: You have to give Acxiom all your personal information to stop them from giving it away to Facebook. That includes nick names, former names, married names, common spellings and misspellings, phone numbers, email addresses, street addresses, the whole shebang, all of it, everything. This may be a little bit terrifying to do, but think about how Acxiom got a hold of your data in the first place – they probably tapped into your supermarket membership card and watched your purchases, and the same goes for the sites you frequently shop through online.
If you’re still super wary, start off by providing the phone number and email you’ve associated with your Facebook account and clicking on the green plus sign (+) next to it – leave everything else blank. Everything on Facebook is almost certainly public – the fact that you’ve included these contact details in your About page means you don’t mind people (including Facebook) using them.
After clicking Submit, you can decide to install Acxiom’s opt-out cookie, but like the online advertising option mentioned above, if you clear your cookies, this disappears. You will receive an email with a link from Acxiom that you will have to click to finalize your opt-out.
3. Datalogix. Datalogix makes its opt-out function less obvious. To get to it, you need to check out the site’s privacy page and find the heading named Choice. Go to where it says, “If you wish to opt out of all Datalogix-enabled advertising across channels including direct mail, online, mobile, and analytic products, click here,” and click. A pop-up form will appear and will ask for your name, address, and email address. The form says the opt-out will happen within 30 days.
4. Epsilon. Epsilon provides a variety of ways to opt-out of their marketing database. You can send an email containing your full name (with middle initial), current address, and previous address (if you have been living at your new one for less than six months) to email@example.com. You can also talk to a representative and provide the same info by calling 1.888.780.3869. Lastly, U.S. consumers can send the same data via snail mail addressed to: Epsilon, P.O. Box 1478, Broomfield, CO 80036. An address for Canadian consumers is also available. Additionally, you can provide your email address to speed up the process of opting out.
By going through all these (tedious) steps, you may be well on your way to having less exposure to unwanted Facebook ads. Until Facebook offers its own opt-out function (it may never happen), as an added precaution, it may be wise to keep a privacy add-on or extension enabled on your Web browser at all times (see number 1). Another practice you should also consider is to refrain from signing up for random lists, whether online or in person. Any form asking for your email address or phone number – whether it’s a sign-up sheet for a community fun run sponsored by your favorite sports good store , a guestbook at a fundraiser, or a website offering updates – will most definitely be used to contact you for future selling opportunities. You can set up a separate email address for these kinds of sign ups and avoid using the one associated with your Facebook profile. Consider setting up an alternate phone number aside from the one you use on social media platforms, as well. Because if it can be tracked, it will be.
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