Facebook Will Gather More User Information, but Offer More Control Over Ads

Activities on and off the site will influence ad selection, but users will be given more tools for blocking ads

Facebook is moving to offer users a familiar trade-off: their browsing privacy in return for more targeted advertising. Those who find that no deal at all will be able to use opt-out tools, but all users will be given a little more control over the ads they see.

The new features will target ads based on the behavior of Facebook users on the site, as happens today, and also elsewhere, in apps and on other websites, Facebook said in a blog post Thursday.

Facebook will use the information gathered from all those sources to identify its users' interests and match them with advertising, as it already does with information about their onsite activities.

It said users will be able to opt out of the new information gathering. In mobile apps, they will be able to do this through standard iOS and Android controls, it said, while in their browser they will follow the opt-out mechanisms provided by the Digital Advertising Alliance.

The company is also introducing new per-ad controls allowing its users to find out why they were shown an ad, and to request more or fewer related ads.

A screenshot illustrating the function showed that clicking on one corner of the ad will drop down a menu allowing users to select one of four options: "I don't want to see this," "Hide all ads from this advertiser," "Why am I seeing this?" and "This ad is useful." Asking for more information will show the interest areas identified by Facebook to which the ad is related, allowing users to reject further ads associated with that interest.

The ad preference controls will appear to U.S. users within a few weeks, the company said, while users in the rest of the world will have to wait months.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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