New Facebook Ad Targeting Will Gather User Data From Third-Party Websites, Apps

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The House of Representatives passed a late-night vote on Thursday to cut funding to two of the National Security Agency’s most controversial practices: Warrantless collection of Americans’ online data and the installation of surveillance “backdoors” on commercial tech products -- a measure being applauded by tech companies and privacy advocates. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

The House of Representatives passed a late-night vote on Thursday to cut funding to two of the National Security Agency’s most controversial practices: Warrantless collection of Americans’ online data and the installation of surveillance “backdoors” on commercial tech products — a measure being applauded by tech companies and privacy advocates. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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Menlo Park, Calif. (CBS DC) – Facebook will soon allow users to question why they are being shown specific ads, giving users the ability to see how it’s using copious amounts of personal data to target advertisements – which will now include websites and interests gathered from non-Facebook activity.

In a Thursday blog post, the company says that it will begin targeting ads to users by collecting more data from non-Facebook websites and mobile apps. The post describes it as a “type of Internet-based advertising,” adding that “many companies already do this.”

“Let’s say that you’re thinking about buying a new TV, and you start researching TVs on the web and in mobile apps. We may show you ads for deals on a TV to help you get the best price or other brands to consider. And because we think you’re interested in electronics, we may show you ads for other electronics in the future, like speakers or a game console to go with your new TV.”

In addition to the third-party data it already uses for ad-targeting, the company says it will now allow users to specifically ask “Why am I seeing this?” on a specific advertisement. Facebook will then inform the user why it showed the ad – for example, a Taco Bell ad could be used because another fast food company was also “liked.”

Once explained, the user will have the option to erase the attribute that Facebook used to target the ad and allow the user to scroll through and edit the attributes that Facebook thinks are the user’s most succinct characteristics. Advocates of the changes say that Facebook’s ads will gain value for the company and users will be able to see more relevant advertisements.

Concerned users will be allowed to opt-out by using the industry-standard Digital Advertising Alliance option.

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