March 2016
Thanks for reading our newsletter where we'll share tips and trends on all aspects of communication and digital marketing! As always, please let me know any subjects you might like covered in future issues! 

Expect this monthly in your email box!  

In This Issue
Feel like you're being watched?

That's because you are. All social sites track our preferences, but Facebook in particular attracts users who love to share information. If you are an advertiser, Facebook represents a wealth of information that allows you to target specific audiences and preferences very inexpensively. Tons of companies use Facebook's platform to track our viewing, search and buying habits.

If you are an individual that feels like you're being stalked by companies that want to reach directly into your brain and then into your virtual wallet, read on for some ideas on limiting the type or amount of information that is shared with advertisers.

It's creepy.

I'm an online shopper and well aware that I'm providing information to advertisers every time I click on a link, spend time on a web page, click on an item for a closer look or put something in an online shopping cart but don't buy it. So why am I so creeped out when the exact pair of shoes I looked at yesterday on Zappos shows up in a FB ad or on the side of a website that I'm visiting?

Likewise, most of us are aware that FB is tracking our preferences every time we use the app -- but many aren't aware of all of the third party companies that are tracking your preferences as well, including:
  • Facebook apps: Every time a friend sends you an invitation to click on a game they're playing and you click on it, you are allowing that app developer to track you. You can edit the information that the apps can access from your Settings (more info below).
  • Facebook logins: When you comment on an article or sign into a site that allows you to "log in with Facebook", you're allowing that site to track you. Avoid this by creating an account with a new user name and password instead.
With a little help from your friends.

One of the least known ways in which Facebook apps track you is through your friends' apps. Even if you have not downloaded an app, FB's default settings allow your friend's apps to see your information as well. 

What to do?

Most hackers don't waste time on individuals - they're looking to hack information from big entities, some of whom may be these third party vendors who are stockpiling your information. While nothing online is ever foolproof or "safe", there are steps you can take to minimize your exposure. 

Facebook defaults to sharing as much information with as many sources as possible, so check your settings to make sure you're choosing what to share. From the pull-down menu on your profile (the arrow that is farthest to the right in your header), select "Settings". In the left column on that page you'll see "Apps". 
  1. Review & remove apps that you no longer use.  
  2. Limit the information apps may access. Click on "Edit" under the "Apps others use" section; uncheck the information from your profile that you don't wish to share.
  3. Disable the "Apps, Websites & Plugins" feature. This is less practical if you are an active FB user, but it is possible to do. From the "Edit" button in this section, you can disable the ability to use apps, plugins, websites and games on FB. Unfortunately, you cannot pick and choose which apps/sites/games to allow - this is an all-or-nothing proposition to either Enable or Disable this functionality. If you are playing games on FB or have a Twitter account linked to your FB page, disabling this feature will mean that you can no longer use those links. Likewise, if you use a scheduling tool such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck that requires approval to post on FB, disabling this feature means you can no longer access FB from that application. Disabling this platform is not a solution that will work for everyone, but some may find it useful.
Changing the information that third parties can collect on Facebook does not remove any information that has already been collected; it can only affect future information.

Know also that when we limit the information we provide to advertisers, they have to go back to guessing about our preferences based on less specific information. So if you are a person who appreciates targeted ads that may very well interest you, you can also go into to edit the apps to provide even more information.

Whatever your preference, you should be sharing (or not sharing) information intentionally rather than allowing Facebook to set the defaults.  

Happy editing!