If you're getting a head start on Christmas shopping, perhaps you've noticed ads on your Facebook that are basically your Google search history. As you scroll through your feed, you see listings for that Nintendo Switch your teen wanted or promotions for the new Barbie dolls you were just looking at for your niece and nephew. Weird huh? Well, there's a reason for these scarily accurate advertisements.
When you use the internet, you leave behind a trail of cookies. This sounds like Hansel and Gretel right? But in this scenario, cookies are essentially files of information (like your shopping preferences) that a website stores. These sites can then sell your information to advertisers who now have a very good idea — down to the exact pages that you've visited — of what you're interested in. That's why you see super specific ads on your computers. The advertisers are hoping that, because they know what you are looking for, they can entice you to click on something by giving you more ads for similar products.
Do you use Facebook to log into some of your apps? This is a feature that's available on programs like Spotify. If you do, you're giving advertisers even more insight.
“To have Facebook data combined with your shopping habits can be extremely valuable, not just to thieves but in current state of the world today,” Eva Vasquez, the president and CEO of Identity Theft Resource Center, said.
So how can you limit how much you share? Turn off the tracking! Here's how you do it.
Go to your Facebook account and click on the little triangle on the right side of the blue tool bar. Hit Settings, then hit Ads on the left side of the screen, and then scroll down to Ad settings. There you can choose how much you want to share.
Pretty simple, right?
h/t Reader's Digest