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How to block targeted ads on Facebook, Google, Instagram and Twitter

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Whatever site you open on the Internet, targeted advertising will follow you everywhere. It is impossible to completely get rid of it, but there are a few tips to help you reduce it.

Targeted advertising is a huge business. It brings Facebook about 98% of its income. In the first three months of 2019 alone, the company’s revenue amounted to $14.9 billion and grew by 26% per year. This incredible growth is primarily driven by ads shown on Instagram.

In the same three months, Google made $30.7 billion and Twitter made about $787 million in targeted advertising revenue. Facebook, Google, and Twitter approach ad serving differently, but their success comes down to the same thing: targeting.

Targeted advertising is when you are shown an ad that is likely to correlate with your interests. Data based on your gender, age, income level and psychological characteristics, including relationships with people and interests, is used to deliver targeted advertising.

Facebook, Google, and Twitter track your activities, location, and searches to understand your preferences and show you relevant ads and banners from other advertisers.

They do n’t actually trade your personal data, but sell access to it. If you’ve searched for Skyscanner flights, when you visit Facebook or Youtube, you’ll immediately see offers from other airlines or hotels. A little scary, isn’t it?

To block the appearance of annoying ads or banners on the sidebar, you can download special extensions that will protect your browser. However, if you’re not ready to give up social media and search engines, there’s little you can do to completely stop them from following you. The Facebook Pixel, which the company uses to track user behavior online, is active on more than eight million websites and even tracks people who don’t have a Facebook account.

However, there are several ways you can control the ads you see.

How to block targeted ads on Facebook

First of all, find out what is being advertised to you. This can be done by clicking on the " Advertising settings " button in the settings of your page on the site. What Facebook defines as your interests depends on the pages you like and follow, the location tags, and the posts you interact with. All of this information can be found in the " Your Interests " section of your ad settings. The data is divided into categories and can be deleted by pressing the button in the upper right corner.

Advertisers upload a list of their customers to Facebook using their email addresses or phone numbers. They get this information from the mailing lists you subscribe to or when you shop at the firm’s retail store. Facebook matches this data with the person’s profile without disclosing their identity to the advertiser. Have you signed up for the ASOS newsletter to get cashback on your first order? Don’t be surprised when you see this company’s banners in your Facebook feed.

At the time of this writing, I’ve been shown ads from 22 different companies over the course of seven days. Most of the banners appeared because I had applications from these companies installed on my phone. Ads from such advertisers can be hidden, but again they must be blocked on an individual basis in the advertising settings section. There is another section where you can review the ads you have already interacted with and report your negative experience after visiting a particular site.

The About You section helps Facebook build a profile of your preferences for targeted advertising. If you are single and have indicated this fact in the “Marital Status" column, do not be surprised to see an ad from Happn or another dating site soon. There is no need to remove this information from your profile as you can prevent Facebook from sharing it with third parties. Just change your settings on the page.

Next, be sure to open the Ad Settings section to have better control over your personal data. You can prevent Facebook from sharing information about your online activity with Instagram or certain partner websites and apps. For example, if you access the Spotify app or the Netflix website using your Facebook credentials, information about your activity and interests will be shared with the company.

People want to know what their friends like. And Facebook is taking advantage of it. The company will show ads to your friends based on your activity, including likes, followings, shares and meetings you have joined. Ads will appear in your friends’ feed and give the impression that it was you who advised you to subscribe to a particular page. You can prevent a company from doing this kind of advertising by opening the "Advertising based on my preferences" item in the settings and selecting the "No one" option there, which will prevent other users from tracking your activity on Facebook.

Although ads can not be completely blocked, you can determine which ads you do not want to see on your page. At the bottom, find the "Hide ad topics" option and decide which topics (for example, alcohol or parenting) do not interest you at all.

How to Limit Ads on Instagram

An Instagram ad is no different from a regular post, except for the fact that the sponsor of that post is also listed below the username. A promoted post can be hidden by clicking on the “…” in its upper right corner. Instagram will ask you why you want to hide this ad. Report the ad as inappropriate to never see it again.

The Instagram Ads section only contains information about the ads you’ve interacted with recently, as well as a link to the FAQ. Instagram shows you ads based on your activity on the site, on the social network Facebook and other partner websites and applications. This means you may see ads based on the preferences of the people you follow and your interests on Facebook. It is also clear that Instagram will change its policy of displaying targeted ads, based on innovations from Facebook.

How to block targeted ads on Twitter

As with other Facebook-owned companies, it’s not possible to completely block ads on Twitter. You can prevent ads based on your interests by turning off this setting in the "Personalization & Data" section of your privacy settings. Also, visit the Your Twitter Data section to see a list of topics and accounts that have been curated based on your profile and activity. In my case, about 127 interesting topics and users were found. You can delete any of the threads or any of the users, but keep in mind that the list will grow every time you retweet or like a tweet.

These settings only work for ads served by Twitter itself and not by third party advertisers, including Google. You can use these links: optout.aboutads.info and www.networkadvertising.org/choices to opt out of receiving interest-based advertising from third parties.

How to block targeted ads on Google

You can block targeted ads using your Google Ads settings. This site provides users with detailed information on how their ads are personalized. Ads are based on the personal information you’ve added to your Google account, data from partner companies, and an assessment of your interests. You can block ad personalization by selecting this option in your settings. This will include both Google products and the roughly two million other websites and apps the company has partnered with (Google search excluded ).

If you are logged in to the system, go to the "Data and personalization" section to change your ad personalization settings. Go back to access the activity controls to prevent Google, Youtube and other services from tracking your web and app activity, search history and locations. By installing a special blocker, you can disable Google Analytics.

Google Chrome, other popular browsers, and the Youtube app have private browsing or video browsing settings known as incognito. This means that the browser or application ignores cookies to track your activities and does not keep a history of the pages you have visited on the Internet. Although Google still knows what sites you visit. The company also recently announced that incognito mode will appear in Google Maps.

According to Wired.

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