Like it or not, Facebook is tracking you

Latest, after Google, to join the bandwagon to track data to target advertisements to users is Facebook. Where do you go from here?

shivangi-narayan

Shivangi Narayan | June 18, 2014



Internet has been rife with debates, articles and arguments over whether Facebook should collect user data or not to target advertisements. But make no bones about it; Facebook was always collecting your data.

Those small ads on the left side of the screen? They were a result of all the things you ‘liked’ on the social networking site or searched for on your computer.

The tracking and the ads were always there. Except that this time Facebook is going to use its ‘like’ button to track users’ activities across websites, platforms (and everywhere), which have the like button embedded in them. If you connect to a website through the ‘Facebook connect’ tool, expect to be tracked there too. Your permission to be tracked has been automatically taken when you signed in for Facebook. You can opt out of it, but Zuckerberg knows that not many make the effort to actively opt-out from features on the site. A time of India report puts it at a mere two percent.

While the concerns for data privacy are real in this scenario, we shouldn’t forget that Google already does the same thing. Contextual advertising was something that Google search gave birth to. So your data is already being searched and stored by search engines for targeted advertising. For social networking sites (or any site) advertisements are the only way to make money. This might be targetted advertising or banner/pop-up ads.

No one wants banners or pop-ups. Neither the site developers because they ruin the user experience of their site, thus reducing traffic; nor the users because well, they ruin the user experience of the site. For Facebook to make money and not ruin the fun, targeted advertising is where it will have to go.

Once we accept that data mining is here to stay, apart from living peaceful lives, we can look at methods to reduce it. Go ahead, prove Zuckerberg wrong. Opt out from Facebook data tracking. Use browsers like Tor for private browsing. If you have Windows, disable cookie usage. Turn on private browsing if you are using Mac.

Go to http://www.aboutads.info/choices/ to stop companies from browsing your data. Take cues from this woman who did everything in her power to stop companies from mining her data

In a consumer society, you are what you buy. Which is why, advertisers need to target and make money off your buying. Hide your data; data mining is here to stay.

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