Don’t like Facebook using “data” to target ads to you? Here’s how to change that!

Please don’t show me your erectile Dysfunction pills or bladder control pads

Personally, I prefer they target ads to me. I would much rather see an ad for a cool new camera app or a pair of shoes with a cat on the toe over an ad for erectile dysfunction. If you don’t care about the ads because you have blinders on and don’t notice them, that’s a skill I’d love to have!

With all of the questions of data and privacy, I understand your concerns. I understand, but I do not agree. If you listen to any part of the Mark Zuckerberg testimony, every other senator has asked who Facebook is selling their data to. And every 5 minutes he repeats, “Facebook does not give your data to advertisers.”

And they don’t. But this blog isn’t about that. If you are concerned and feel you need more privacy, these are the steps to change your settings so that you are no longer targeted in ad campaigns.

Steps to change settings on your desktop computer

step 1- Open your settings

Where is that? On any page on Facebook, look to the upper right-hand corner. Next to the question mark symbol (which leads to help) there is an arrow. This is a drop-down menu (see below). Click the arrow (circled in red) and look for the word “settings” (also circled in red). Click it.

Where are my Facebook settings?

Step 2- Find the setting for ads

Where can I see settings for the ads I see on Facebook?While it may look like that is for advertisers, this is the setting that controls the ads you see and the data from you used for targeting.

When you click on settings, you are automatically taken to your “General” settings. This is where you edit:

  • your name (make sure you use your real name!)
  • username
  • contact information
  • temperature (of all things?)
  • a legacy contact, meaning should something happen to you, they can take control of your account
  • deactivate your account- get rid of all your “data

And just below those settings, you will also see “Download a copy of your Facebook data.” While that’s a blog in itself, I do want to point it out because by downloading this, you can see exactly what you have out there, take responsibility for your part in data sharing, and take action for yourself. Here is the link.

Step 3- Ad Preferences

Before going into the settings, click here to go to Facebook’s About Facebook Ads page to understand why you see the ads you are seeing. In ad preferences, we are going to look at:

  1. Your interests
  2. Advertisers you’ve interacted with
  3. Your information
  4. Ad settings
  5. Hide ad topics

Let’s go through these one at a time.

Your Interests

Knowing you are interested in these subjects from news and entertainment to (looking at the drop-down under “more”) lifestyle and culture helps advertisers get relevant ads to you. “Skis” came up a lot during the Mark Zuckerberg testimony. If you have skiing in your interests, you could be seeing ads for skis, especially if you’ve visited a sporting goods website with the Facebook Pixel in their site’s code. (More on that here.)

As you can see below, I have some varied interests. I don’t even know how I ended up with “Car and Driver” in my interests, but that does explain a lot of irrelevant ads!

What preferences can I control in Facebook ad targeting?

Do I really want to see these ads on Facebook?You can choose one of these interests and see what types of ads you could see based on that category. For example, Car and Driver. Yuck! I don’t want to see those ads! But maybe you do?

It’s a lot to get rid of, but you can delete all of these interests if you don’t want to be targeted. Alternatively, you can pick and choose what may be interesting to you. I will keep Playbill because if a new show is coming to Sacramento or San Francisco, I do want to see ads for that! Get the point?

How to delete an interest:

How do I delete an interest on Facebook?First note that when you hover, it tells why you have been subscribed to the interest. Usually, it is either you liked a similar page or have an app on your phone, i.e. Netflix. When you hover, you will then see the “x” in the upper right-hand corner. Simply click this to delete that interest and you will no longer be targeted by companies looking for that topic.

FYI, I also had “automobiles” under hobbies. You may not understand some of them. Just continue to delete.

Alternatively, if you are an advertiser, take a moment to look at these categories to get a sense of some ways you can target your next ad. I don’t see how my love of Amy Schumer would sell me a house, but you can use things like those following pages similar to

How to delete advertisers you’ve interacted with:

The first thing to take note of: “These advertisers are running ads using a contact list they uploaded that includes contact info you shared with them or with one of their data partners.”

Okay, so what does that mean? I shop at Sephora frequently and get a monthly subscription box from Ipsy. They have either uploaded their list to Facebook for their own ads or have shared my information. Allstate I don’t have an account with, but I did get a quote from them so they either have the Pixel or I opted-in to their email list. Wilson’s I know I signed up at the store and who knows about Gillette!

While these advertisers have you on their lists, you can control the content you see from them on Facebook. You can’t, however, control remaining on their list by doing anything on Facebook. You would have to contact each retailer individually to take care of that.

How can I stop getting ads from a specific retailer on Facebook?To delete: Hover over the advertiser just like you did in the “interests” section. Click the “x” to remove and you will now see a dimmed version of what was there with this message:

“You hid all ads from this advertiser”

Bye bye, Brad! (Who’s Brad and why do I get his deals?)

Just remember that this may take a while as we move on to the next section. You have to really want to get rid of everything to go through this process. Personally, I took this chance to remove some politicians and other advertisers that don’t apply to me, but left things like eBay and Spirit Halloween stores because I want the announcements of deals.

Remember! You don’t have to go through this process to avoid sharing data. You can also use these settings to streamline your experience on Facebook!

How to edit “Your Information:”

This is a lot of the information advertisers are looking at. Unlike the other sections, these options are easy to shut down.

How do I control information about me on Facebook that advertisers can use to target ads?

As you can see above, each has a toggle switch. They are automatically on but by clicking on them, you shut them off. By the way, “interested in” isn’t referring to your interests, but rather how you answer the question in your profile. “Interested in” men, women, friends, etc.

Get ready for the politics!

This is where things get juicy! As an advertiser, these categories (a 2nd tab in the above photo) are my bread and butter. For the average user, they can appear a little scary. Keep in mind, you are the only one seeing this information. Right now you are seeing mine because it’s a screenshot. No one else can access your data this way.

Also, when Facebook uses this data with ads, they are not giving any information about you to the advertiser. They tell Facebook what audience they would like to see the ads and Facebook shows the ads on their side. For example, back to the skis.

A sporting goods store has an ad for a ski sale. They tell people we want people in this part of the world to see our ad, but make sure they have an interest in skis or live near snow. Facebook takes the request and uses your categories to get that ad in front of you but they never say, “These are the people who saw the ad.” The most the advertiser gets back is what time of day you may have seen the ad or how many times it was viewed.

How do advertisers know about my politics or the computer I use?

Looking at this I can see they got some things wrong. Also, I don’t talk politics or engage with political content on Facebook, so I’m not sure where those categories were decided? To get rid of any of these, just do as the other sections. Hover, find the “x” and click. All gone!

Don’t worry, we’re over half way through!

How to adjust your ad settings:

Before making your decision on these three items, click on the category and it will expand with an explanation.

How do I adjust my ad settings on Facebook?

  1. Based on the use of websites and apps: “If you turn off online interest-based ads you’ll still see the same number of ads, but they may be less relevant to you.”
  2. Based on apps and websites off of the Facebook Companies: “You’ll see ads that are more interesting and relevant to you.”
  3. Based on your social actions: “This setting applies to your likes, follows, comments, shares, app usage, check-ins, recommendations, and events you joined that appear with ads your friends see.”

Finally, you have control over a few segments of advertising…

How to hide ad topics:

It’s only 3 topics, but for some, these are make it or break it topics. Do you want to see ads about alcohol, parenting, or pets?

How can I stop seeing alcohol, parenting, or pet related ads on Facebook?

Notice above that you can also have control over the amount of time you are protected from those ads. For example, if you just started Atkins, alcohol may be very tempting for the first 6 months but maybe you want to see those ads later? Or maybe you just lost a pet and don’t need a constant reminder. Also, let’s say you have no intention of ever having kids. Just check “permanently” and those ads are gone forever!

so remember: you are in the driver’s seat

Whether you want to ban all information from being used in the ads you see or you just want ads more relevant to your lifestyle, the settings are here and you should utilize them. If you don’t want to see ads, well, consider how often you use Facebook and they don’t charge you directly for it. That means this is the price you pay to use Facebook.

Be safe online, remember that you have a role in your own privacy, and let me know if you have any questions!


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