Blog Archives

Ad Tracking On Facebook and How To Stop It

So you visit a website, let’s say… a Halloween costume shop because you are looking for the perfect spandex bodysuit to play your favourite super hero. The next time you log in to Facebook, you’re seeing ads down the side of your page and stealthily snuck into your News Feed. These ads are full of spandex body suits. And latex. And worse. You only needed a spidey costume! Your browser has tracked your surfing activity and fed it back to Facebook. Do you feel violated yet?

There is now a way to drastically reduce the number of activity-based ads (also known as behavioral advertising) that you see on Facebook. Since simply turning off your cookies renders Facebook (and many other websites) virtually unusable, the Digital Advertising Alliance gives you a tool to opt out of tracking based advertising. Here’s how you do it:

Visit the Digital Advertising Alliance’s opt-out page at: http://www.aboutads.info/choices/ (Think of this DAA tool as the “Do Not Call” list of the Internet.)

The page will automatically begin scanning the browser you are using for companies that are tracking your activity and reporting it to Facebook to generate ads.

When the scan is complete, you will see a list of companies that have been participating in this on your computer at your expense. Here, you want to check the “Select All” box, then submit your choices at the bottom.

Once complete, you will have a screen that looks like this:

Opt Outs

I have selected the 3rd tab here to show companies that are no longer tracking what I do for advertising (and God only knows what other purposes). As you can see, 118 companies were found in this case to be tracking activity. Of those, one “could not be communicated with.” 96 of these companies had an option to “opt out” of their tracking based advertising. The rest had no available opt-outs. Still, there are now 96 companies that are no longer tracking me for Facebook ads? I’ll take it.

Of course, this will not get rid of all of your Facebook ads – they have to stay afloat somehow and advertising is their primary source of income. However, you can feel a little bit better about your privacy and that in itself is worth a few clicks.

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So I’m a Sucker…

So I’m playing a freebie app on my iPod Touch, and of course an ad pops up. Typically I’d just click through it without even looking, but this one gave me pause: a tiny lithium ion battery that would charge my USB devices anywhere.

OMG

I clicked.

I cannot say how many times I have been out, away from any computer, wall outlet, or even my car, neck deep in a texting or gaming or photo-taking spree and the battery bar on my device of use behind yelling at me. There’s nowhere to charge it, so I relent and shut it off, saving that last bit of juice for an emergency.

The ad took me to Duracell’s spec page for the DR7000li where I found the miracle for which I’d been searching. I surfed my iPod on over to eBay where I picked one up from Tiger Direct for $9.99, free shipping. A few days later, my dog and I eagerly raced to the door when UPS came a’knocking. Packaging and manual tossed aside, my new charger was plugged into my laptop and charging in no time. An hour later, when that little red light turned green, I immediately switched ports and jacked it onto my cell phone: it worked! I was giddy – barely anything is compatible with my Metro PCS Samsung phone. Next, the Pod. In less than an hour, it went from dying to a big happy shiny green full bar. This little device is going to go everywhere with me.

The DR7000li took its first charge about 4 days ago and hasn’t needed recharging yet, even after numerous uses in charging my phone and iPod (which on a busy day can die on me 3-4 times). The device promises up to 35 hours of run time on USB devices in use with it, but just giving a full charge to the devices and turning it back off when the charge is complete has proven of best use.

The only drawback is that I still have to have USB cables with me, since every device pretty much has it’s own specific need. So, in my backpack live 3 cables and my new Duracell charger. We are permanently attached until the day comes that, like USB drives, each device will be cable-free, able to attach by itself to each other device.

From no paper to no cables, the all-digital, all-wireless world is coming (I hope).