Stop Ads That Follow You on Facebook

Stop Ads That Follow You on Facebook, Google and the Web

Enabling privacy settings will stop advertisers from targeting you with your browsing history

By Joanna Stern Nov. 4, 2016 8:49 a.m. ET
Yesterday you searched for Planters nuts on Amazon. Today, there he is, Mr. Peanut—monocle, top hat and all—smack in the middle of your Facebook feed.

VIDEO: Stop Facebook’s Ads From Following You Around
Enable these privacy settings to keep Facebook and other digital overlords from using your web browsing history, says WSJ’s Joanna Stern.
Facebook and other websites use your web browsing history (or more technically, your web browser’s cookies) to target ads at you. It is often referred to as “interest-based advertising” although I prefer the term “stalking.” Here’s how to stop the ads from following you on different services.

 

On Facebook

In the Facebook iOS or Android app, tap the three lines in the bottom-right corner, select Settings > Account Settings > Ads. Tap “Can you see online interest-based ads from Facebook?” and then “Off.” This will turn off the setting across your Facebook account—on all your devices. On a computer? Go to facebook.com/ads/settings.

While you are there, opt out of allowing Facebook to use your personal info when showing you ads across the web. Click “No” on “Can your Facebook ad preferences be used to show you ads on apps and websites off of the Facebook Companies?”

Across the Web

Other tech companies offer similar settings of their own. Visit these sites on your devices to opt out:

  • Google

  • Amazon

  • Microsoft

On your computer, if you want to stop other sites from accessing your browsing history to feed you ads, head to the Digital Advertising Alliance Consumer Choice page . This will only work, however, on the computer you are on. Also, if you clear the browser cache in the future, you will have to redo the process.

You should enable “Do not track” in your computer and smartphone’s browser. In Chrome, click the three vertical dots > Settings > “Show advanced settings…” > Privacy > “Send a ‘Do Not Track’ request with your browsing traffic.” You can find similar settings in Safari, Firefox, Edge and Internet Explorer.

On Your Smartphone

There are similar settings built into your phone’s operating system. On an iPhone, go to Settings > Privacy > Advertising, and turn on “Limit Ad Tracking.”

On an Android phone, go to Settings > Google > Ads. There you can click “Opt out of interest-based ads.” This setting is just for Google-based ads, however.

These settings won’t end the ads, but they can limit how often Mr. Peanut feels the urge to sneak up on you.

Write to Joanna Stern at joanna.stern@wsj.com

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