It's official: there's nowhere to hide.
Companies like Facebook and Google are happy to offer you their services for free, but free always has a cost on the internet. Advertising pays the bills, and these big companies separate themselves from the pack by serving up ads that are better targeted than other networks. How do they target so well? By tracking you as you make your way across the web and building a profile that helps determine which ads you're most likely to click.
Some people don't want to be tracked by Facebook, so they don't register an account with the site. But thanks to some major changes rolling out now, on one will be able to hide from Facebook tracking.
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Facebook announced on Thursday evening that it is changing the way its advertising works across the web. Facebook doesn't just serve ads on facebook.com and in its mobile apps, the company also has a network of third-party websites and apps that it partners with to display ads. It's called the Audience Network, and there has always been one big difference between the way Facebook's off-site ads work as compared to Google: They were only shown to Facebook users.
Now, that will no longer be the case.
As The Wall Street Journal noted on Friday morning, Facebook's off-site ads will now be shown to people who are not registered Facebook users. That also means webgoers without Facebook accounts will now be tracked by Facebook so that the ads they're served will be better targeted to their tastes.
By altering the code websites use to display Facebook widgets such as "Like" buttons, Facebook can track a user across most or even all of the web pages he or she visits. That information is then stored and analyzed by Facebook so that advertisements served by Audience Network partners are more likely to be relevant to these users.
"Our buttons and plugins send over basic information about users' browsing sessions. For non-Facebook members, previously we didn't use it. Now we'll use it to better understand how to target those people," Andrew Bosworth, vice president of Facebook's ads and business platform, told WSJ.
Looking to thwart Facebook's ad tracking? It's easier than you might think, and you can find out how right here.