Facebook has been using social plug-ins such as the like and share buttons placed on others' sites to add to what it knows about the 1.49 billion people that use the social network each month. Next month it will start using that information to target ads -- as it said it would in June 2014 -- but before that happens it's giving people an easier way to opt out of those behaviorally targeted ads.
Facebook is adding a tool to the ad settings tab that people can use to tell Facebook they don't want the social network to show them ads based on the sites they browse outside of Facebook. If people opt out of these ads, Facebook will no longer use that behavioral data for the ads it runs on Facebook, Instagram and across its mobile in-app ad network.
The ability to prevent Facebook from targeting ads based on off-Facebook browsing behavior isn't new. But being able to opt out of that targeting within a person's Facebook settings is new. Previously people could click on a link within the Facebook ad settings that directed them to a page run by the Digital Advertising Alliance, which manages the industry's self-regulatory AdChoices program, in order to opt out of behavioral tracking.
One advantage to opting out of behavioral tracking on Facebook's site versus the DAA's is that the opt-out should be more persistent when it comes to ads on Facebook. Since the DAA's opt-out is cookie-based, a person would need to opt out on each device they use to access Facebook. But Facebook's tool connects the opt-out to a person's Facebook account meaning that Facebook will be able to recognize and honor the opt-out request even if you're logged into Facebook on someone else's computer or phone.
To access the behavioral targeting opt-out, people will need to first open the account settings section, which can be found by clicking on the "More" tab in Facebook's mobile app or the arrow in the top-right corner on Facebook's desktop site. Then they will need to click on the "ads" tab, which will display the new opt-out tool. Aside from a company blog post that will be published on Tuesday, Facebook doesn't plan to explicitly notify users of the new opt-out, though it did notify them of the DAA opt-out last year after announcing plans to use the social plug-ins for ad targeting.
If people would rather opt out by using the DAA's tool, that's fine too. Facebook will continue to honor those opt-out requests as well as any opt-out requests made via their iPhone, iPad or Android device's settings.