Facebook introduces new cookies policy and allows users to opt out of tailored ads on non-Facebook sites

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When you hit Facebook today, you may well notice a new Cookies Policy warning at the top of the page. It states: "To help personalize content, tailor and measure ads, and provide a safer experience, we use cookies. By clicking or navigating the site, you agree to allow our collection of information on and off Facebook through cookies. Learn more, including about available controls: Cookies Policy". But what is it all about?

Facebook hasn’t made a great deal of fuss about it, but the social network has introduced not only a new cookies policy, but also made changes to ads. It is now possible to opt out of seeing tailored ads on non-Facebook sites. Facebook says it is all part of creating "a better online advertising experience for everyone".

While you may have resigned yourself to the fact that using Facebook means that the social network will try to show you ads based on your preferences and internet usage, the fact that these tailored ads can follow you to non-Facebook sites irks many people, particularly those with a keen interest in privacy. In introducing a new ad policy, Facebook now allows users to block the appearance of ads based on their Facebook account when they visit other sites. This does not mean that no ads will be displayed, but it does mean that the ads you see outside of Facebook should be more generic.

In Facebook's words:

Starting today, you can opt out of seeing ads on apps and websites not offered by Facebook based on your ad preferences. You can do this by visiting your Facebook settings or tapping the AdChoices icon next to an Audience Network ad.

The updated Cookies Policy -- which you automatically agree to by merely clicking anywhere on Facebook -- highlights the fact that this advertising change has been made:

  • Some of the ads you see are based on your activity on websites and apps beyond the Facebook family of companies. We call this online interest-based advertising. You can control whether you see online interest-based ads from Facebook in your ad settings.

  • The Facebook Audience Network is a way for advertisers to show you ads in apps and websites beyond the Facebook family of companies. One of the ways Audience Network shows relevant ads is by using your ad preferences to determine which ads you may be interested in seeing. You can control this in your ad settings.

If you're interested in taking control of your ads, just head to the Facebook Adverts section of Settings and adjust the setting labeled "Can your Facebook ad preferences be used to show you ads on apps and websites off of the Facebook Companies?".

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