Facebook’s mishandling of user data has made it receive backlash after backlash. It has tried to give users control over what data the giant social network collects but it has all been an illusion. They are several ways to guard and restrict what Facebook can access so that they serve you ads – specifically through location-based ad targeting.
- Turning off location history in the Facebook app
- Not allowing the Facebook app to access your phone’s location
- Not checking-in to places you visit
- Not listing your current city in your profile
Even after doing all this, Facebook will still serve you ads and it can drive you crazy. The only logical answer is that Facebook is getting your location data from the IP address you use to log in to the social network with. Facebook says it does this for security purposes and this isn’t the first time Mark Zuckerberg’s company uses this information they collect for ad targeting purposes. You know that number you give Facebook for 2-factor authentication – advertisers can use it to target Facebook users. Denying permissions for apps to access your location can stop the tracking but the apps still have access to your location just by seeing your IP address.
Facebook doesn’t even deny that they do this – they even say it’s a normal thing and that its users should be aware of it if they went through their Facebook websites such as their Privacy Basics and About Facebook ads site. On their Privacy Basics site, Facebook says that “We may still understand your location using things like check-ins, events, and information about your internet connection.” On their About Ads site, they say “We use location data to show you ads from advertisers trying to reach people in or near a specific place. We get this information from sources such as where you connect to the Internet, where you use your phone, your location from your Facebook and Instagram profile.”
Facebook needs to be more transparent about its advertising principles by giving users controls that actually work.
Facebook says that they use city and zip level location they collect from IP addresses, check-ins and the current city you listed in your profile to ensure the social media giant gives users a good experience. This is how you get to see those eerie ads.
Here’s what to do now
Delete the Facebook app from your phone. IP addresses tend to be more precise on phone. You can also use a VPN or ultimately leave Facebook for good.