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Facebook Changed How It Tracks Users and Declared, “The Future is Private.”

Is the Facebook Future Private

Consumers are becoming savvier with the information they share on social media, and Facebook has responded with new tools that provide users with more control over their privacy.

Earlier this year at the (https://www.f8.com/), Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage to proclaim that, “the future is private,” Zuckerberg went on to announce that Facebook and its accompanying brands were moving forward in shifting into privacy-based platforms.

What these privacy changes mean for your experience on Facebook is that within the news feeds, both paid and organic content will be more closely related to the things you care about. For brands and content creators, this is a positive shift as it allows brands to be more relevant to the people they would like to reach. The Facebook platform, at its heart, is all about creating a positive experience for the 221 million (and growing) Americans that browse their Newsfeed each day. The more relevant the content is to the user, the more engaged the user becomes.

Facebook User Growth since 2017

How Facebook Ads Work

Facebook Ads work based on four principals of targeting. These four principals are: your activity across Facebook companies and products, your activity with other businesses, your activity on other websites and apps, and your location.

  1. Your activity across Facebook companies and products

Ads are shown to you based on your activity across Facebook companies and products, such as:

  • Pages you and your friends like
  • Information from your Facebook and Instagram profile
  • Places you check in using Facebook
  1. Your activity with other businesses

When you share information like your phone number or email address with a business, they might add it to a customer list that can be matched to your Facebook profile. Marketers can then match ads to the most relevant audience. You may have shared your information with these businesses by:

  • Signing up for an email newsletter
  • Making purchases at retail stores
  • Signing up for a coupon or discount
  1. Your activity on other websites and apps

Websites you visit can send Facebook web traffic and data directly by using Facebook business tools (such as a pixel) to help show you ads based on products or services you’ve looked at, such as a shirt on a clothing retailer’s website. Examples of this include:

  • Viewing one of their web pages
  • Downloading their mobile app
  • Adding a product to a shopping cart or making a purchase
  1. Your location

Marketers use location data to show ads to reach people in or near a specific place. Facebook gets this information from sources such as:

  • Where you connect to the internet
  • Where you use your phone
  • Your location from your Facebook and Instagram profile

How You Can Take Control of Your Facebook Ads

The first step Facebook has taken towards a more private future is setting up new controls for users to manage which ads are appearing in the Facebook newsfeed.

To review and edit the ads targeting users, Facebook allows access to an Ad Preferences page where users can review and update their ad settings. Users can remove brands that don’t match what they would like to see, or add new brands that users do want to see.

To view and adjust your ad preferences:

  • Click the blue down arrow in the top right of any Facebook page
  • Click Settings
  • Click Ads in the left sidebar

From the Ad Preferences page, you can update your interests, choose what Facebook information is used to show you ads and adjust your general ad settings.

Changing your ad preferences influences which ads you see, but it won’t change the total number of ads you see. Also keep in mind that advertisers sometimes ask Facebook to show similar ads to multiple audiences, or to wide audiences. For example, a company might want to reach people who like sports. If you remove football from your interests from your ad preferences but keep basketball as an interest, you could still see the company’s ad.

How Email and Phone Number Lists Containing Your Information Are Shared on Facebook

Many businesses have uploaded lists containing your information, typically an email address or a phone number. Through the Facebook Ad Preferences, you’ll now be able to see which companies have access to your email and phone number.

Facebook Ad Preferences

When a company uploads a list for a Facebook Ad, Facebook matches the uploaded information to your profile without revealing your identity to the business through a hashing process.

This hashing process ensures that Facebook doesn’t see the actual contact information that a business uploads and a business can’t see the contact information of Facebook users.

After your information has been hashed, businesses can then share the ability to advertise to the list on Facebook. When access is shared, the recipient cannot see who is in the list and can’t share any of their hashed information.

With new tools in place if you’d like to have your information removed from one of the list advertisers, simply hover over the box of the advertiser you’d like to remove and click the X.

Getting too many political ads in your feed? Seeing too many ads from the big box store you visited over the weekend?  It’s easier than ever to manage and adjust your ad experience.

What’s Next for Facebook Privacy Changes

The changes in Facebook targeting, newsfeed, and ad preference are all related to things that happen within the Facebook ecosystem.  Facebook utilizes one more tool to learn about its users in “Off-Facebook Activity.”

This off-Facebook activity is all the things Facebook knows about you from data sources across the web outside of facebook.com.

Soon, Facebook will allow users the option to choose to disconnect off-Facebook activity from their account. Users will be able to remove this targeting for all of their off-Facebook activity, or just from specific apps and websites where they don’t want to be tracked.

While this tool hasn’t been released to the public, here’s how Facebook says it will work when users opt out of off-Facebook activity.

If you clear your off-Facebook activity, we’ll remove your identifying information from the data that apps and websites choose to send us. We won’t know which websites you visited or what you did there, and we won’t use any of the data you disconnect to target ads to you on Facebook, Instagram or Messenger. We expect this could have some impact on our business, but we believe giving people control over their data is more important.

Is the Future of Facebook Private?

The most visible privacy gaffe, and the recent focus of a Netflix documentary titled The Great Hack is Cambridge Analytica. But, it isn’t the only privacy challenge Facebook has faced.

While it’s true that Facebook has made great strides in providing more control and privacy options across . There is still a great deal of work to be done if the future is going to be private.


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