Facebook knows way more about you than you think – but here’s how to change that

Get yourself clued up Facebook privacy

Words by Jadie Troy-Pryde

Casually flicking through Facebook is an activity that has become so engrained in our everyday lives that we don’t even think twice about it. Waiting for a train? Have a quick scroll and see who has been viewing your profile. Can’t sleep? Upload that #tbt holiday pic to remind yourself (and everyone else) of that time when you didn’t have the Sunday Dread.

Over the years, Facebook has become the go-to for a range of things: picture storage, staying in touch with people (including – ahem – keeping an eye on your exes), and getting your news on a neatly curated feed which is punctuated by memes of cute dogs dressed as pizza. When I decided to take a break from the social media platform a couple of months ago, I was met with a barrage of confused questions from friends and family: ‘But… why? No – what’s the real reason?’ or ‘How am I meant to tag you in videos now?’

But because we use the social media platform for almost everything nowadays, it also means that we’ve been pouring more and more of our personal information into it. Have you ever been admiring the best new season Zara pieces when suddenly that exact item crops up on Facebook as an advert? Or have you ever noticed that after planning a getaway to the most incredible travel blogger destinations you’re suddenly inundated with ads offering cheap flights or accommodation for the very place you’re planning to jet off to?

Facebook, like most social media apps, does keep an eye on your activity and this data is then shared with advertisers, which explains why your adverts creepily seem to know exactly what you want to buy. From the model of phone you’re using, to whether or not you live alone or with housemates, it knows.

Facebook states: ‘The categories in this section help advertisers reach people who are most likely to be interested in their products, services, and causes. We’ve added you to these categories based on information you’ve provided on Facebook and other activity.’

But you can opt out if you would prefer not to see these targeted adverts. Go to settings, select ‘Ads’ on the left hand panel, and under ad preferences choose ‘your information’ and then ‘your categories’. All you have to do is click the ‘x’ to remove the categories that you don’t want to get adverts for.

Of course, if you love the reminder to buy everything you’ve stashed in your ASOS basket, then you can leave it as it is. While you’re counting down to payday, though, it might be a good idea to remove the temptation.

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