Lately, I have noticed something very peculiar. It seems like every single Google search I do, somehow ends up in the sidebar on Facebook in the form of ads. What is up with Facebook? Is Google in on it? I didn’t think Facebook and Google were pals. Days later, I noticed Amazon, Zappo’s, Target and any shopping I do shows up in my sidebar in a creepy, “we’re watching you” sort-a-way. Lately, the “sponsored stories” and ads have been jamming up my already busy feed and some of it? Well, sometimes it’s a little embarrassing. You have to be really careful what you search for/buy, because it is going to show up everywhere—Facebook tracking is following every bit of your web browsing.
Stay tuned, I am going to tell you how to stop Facebook from following you around. You won’t be completely rid of ads on Facebook. Ads are here to stay. HOWEVER, you can opt-out of Facebook web tracking, by blocking Criteo’s web browsing tracking methods.
How is Facebook Tracking Me?
With Facebook, there are Facebook Sponsored Stories, Page Post Ads, Promoted Posts and Marketplace Ads. All of those different advertisements use your online experiences to promote ad content. (If you want to understand the specifics of these different ad categories, I recommend this article for some clarification Understanding the difference between Facebook Sponsored Stories, Page Post Ads, Promoted Posts and Marketplace Ads)
At first, I thought I was being paranoid. It had to be coincidence that the same ads were showing up as my previous searches. When I realized that something was amiss, I was looking for Amazon for a pair of platform flip-flops. Moments later, platform flip-flops appeared in my sidebar on Facebook. Like ten ads for platform flip-flops. Weird, right? Earlier that day, Mr. Bear had already asked me to cool it on the spending for this pay period because things are going to be tight (because I got a stupid speeding ticket). Do you think I wanted my window shopping and retail therapy showing up to remind me that I was lusting after those shoes? I was merely window shopping!
The next incident, was when I bought an entire box of Slim Jim’s for my daughter’s class and within a minute or so, Slim Jim’s were mysteriously showing up in my Facebook ad sidebar—tons of Slim Jim ads. I commented on someone’s weight loss post and by the time I refreshed the page, every diet website imaginable was in my sidebar. It finally dawned on me, that Facebook was eavesdropping on those searches and purchases, then broadcasting. Now, I don’t mind if the site I am shopping on remembers my searches; nonetheless, I don’t need Facebook or any OTHER site to remember it for me.
It’s like being trailed by some suspicious guy at mall and not knowing what he was up to or how to lose him. It’s a little skeevy, if you ask me.
Here’s the thing: in the past, we had tracking cookies. They have been around since the dawn of the interwebs. A cookie could follow user interests throughout the web, without really identifying the user. This is especially true when the user remained logged into their accounts (E-mail, Facebook, shopping networds. If the user doesn’t log out of Facebook, which I NEVER did (until NOW), user interests continue to be tracked while the user browses the web. As most of us have noticed, we are increasingly using our Facebook ID to log in throughout the web. These Facebook Id’s follow you from website to website, reporting your business to Facebook. Cookies are anonymous. Facebook Id’s, HOWEVER, actually are US. There is no anonymity at all. They are no longer tracing our anonymous interests, they are actually tracing US, as individuals. As long as you are logged in, you are being tracked on your phone, your laptop, your tablet ALL DAY LONG.
Think about that for a moment. Do you ever log out of Facebook app on your cell phone? Your laptop? Hmmm. If you don’t, Facebook is watching.
How scary is that?
Did you do a search for hemorrhoids, or adult toys, or acne or menstrual cups, or HIV tests, or any number of topics that might be private? Well, looky there! Facebook is watching YOU, not some anonymous cookie.
One solution is to log out of Facebook every time you finish reading your page. Yea, right! HA! I have that app open on my phone 24/7.
Criteo is the company that handles the ads for Facebook. They are the ones that add the tracking cookies. It is as if Facebook hired a private detective and Criteo is doing the dirty work, by tailing Facebook’s clients. According to Criteo’s Facebook page, their tagline is “Making display advertising perform like search.” Actually, your private search BECOMES their advertising.
If you want to know more about the different ways Facebook is watching your online interactions, take a look at this article HERE.
If you are tired of Facebook being sleazy and following you around, here are the steps you might want to take get Facebook from creeping on your retail experiences. It’s sort of like a temporary Order of Protection. If you clear your cookies, you’ll have to follow these steps again.
Two Steps for Blocking Facebook’s Buddy Criteo from “Optimizing” Your Facebook Experience:
1. Go to one of the ads in the sidebar and click on the “X.” Next, click on “About This Ad,” then follow it to the page where you can opt out. (It should take you here.).
Happy searching! Happy retail therapy!