Why does Facebook keep following me?
The Wall Street Journal
I recently downloaded the What to Expect pregnancy app, even though I’m not pregnant, said Katherine Bindley. But I was testing why “eerily relevant” ads keep popping up on my Facebook feed. I turned off location services, and months ago I opted out of Facebook and Instagram ads tied to my off-site activity. I didn’t even share my email address with the What to Expect app. Still, within hours I got a maternity-wear ad in my Instagram feed. I tried to retrace the path the ad took to find me by talking to the app’s publisher and data partners, the advertiser, and Facebook. “Not one would draw a connection between the two events.” All of them disclaimed responsibility—often while pointing me to the other parties. It seems our ability to control ad tracking comes with lengthy footnotes. Turning off location services stops your device from sending Facebook your “precise” location, but the company can still loosely gather your whereabouts from check-ins, events, and your IP address. And Facebook provides tools for advertisers to track visits to their site, then retarget them with ads on Facebook and Instagram. The company has been telling us we are in command of our personal data and the ads that we see. So “it shouldn’t still feel like Facebook is spying on us, right?”