Ads on Facebook - dummies

By Carolyn Abram

Facebook is free for you to use. Instead of charging its users money, Facebook pays the bills by selling ads. These ads are then shown to you. So, in a way, looking at ads is the way you pay for using Facebook.

Facebook has a number of different ways that it chooses which ads to show to you, and the settings here give you a few options to control how your information gets used alongside ads and in what ads get shown to you.

Keep in mind that no matter what settings you choose on this page, you will still see ads. These settings just control certain types of ads or allow you to express ad preferences. You can’t turn ads off.

The first setting on this page is for Ads Based on Your Use of Websites and Apps. Facebook can choose to show you ads based on other websites you have visited. It calls these ads online interest-based advertising. You can choose to turn these ads off. Remember, this doesn’t turn ads off, it simply means you won’t see online interest-based ads.

The second setting, Ads with my Social Actions, concerns how your Facebook information may appear alongside ads on Facebook. Facebook differentiates its ads from other ads on the Internet by pointing out that their ads are “social.” In other words, if your friend likes something, there’s a good chance you will like it, too. So in its ads, whenever possible, Facebook includes social information. You can see an example of this here.

An ad with social information.

If you aren’t comfortable with your friends seeing things that you’ve liked, or public events you’ve attended, or places you’ve checked in, that’s okay; you can prevent it from happening here.

To prevent your friends from seeing any information about you next to an advertisement, click Edit on the right side of the page. Use the drop-down menu that appears (below all the text) to toggle between Only My Friends and No One. Click the Close link when you’re done.

Even if you don’t change this setting, only your Friends ever see information about you next to ads.

The third setting related to ads is Ads based on your preferences. Clicking Edit to the right of this setting and then clicking Visit Ad Preferences brings you to a page where you can view and edit the preferences Facebook uses to show you ads.

Preferences are the same words that advertisers might use to choose who sees an ad. You might see something that is obviously pulled directly from your profile. For example, if you listed yourself as a democrat in your About section, you might see that a preference is US Politics (Liberal).

Other preferences might seem more obscure or unclear how they wound up in the list. If you see a preference that you don’t agree with, or that reflects certain ads you no longer want to see, hover over that item and click the X on the right side of it to remove it.

Removing all your preferences from this page won’t mean you stop getting ads. It only means that you’re likely to see more generic, less specific ads.