Facebook to Sell Web Browsing Data to Advertisers

Facebook will soon be handing over more of your data to advertising firms, including your Web browsing habits.   

In a blog post released by the social network earlier today, Facebook said that it plans to share its users’ Web browsing histories, along with apps they have downloaded, with advertising companies “in the coming weeks.” This is in order to better target users with personalized ads. The feature initially will be limited to U.S.-based social networkers.

“Today, we learn about your interests primarily from the things you do on Facebook, such as Pages you like. Starting soon in the U.S., we will also include information from some of the websites and apps you use.”

Before today’s announcement, Facebook could target users with ads based only on their activity on the social network.

Facebook explained, “Let’s say that you’re thinking about buying a new TV, and you start researching TVs on the Web and in mobile apps.

“We may show you ads for deals on a TV to help you get the best price or other brands to consider. And because we think you’re interested in electronics, we may show you ads for other electronics in the future, like speakers or a game console to go with your new TV.”

It appears that Facebook is continuing on a campaign to push the data envelope, according to Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. “The move raises troubling privacy and consumer-protection concerns,” he says.

However, Facebook claims it consulted with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioners about the change ahead of today’s announcement, even though it “is not required to seek regulatory approval.”

Facebook is allowing users to opt out of this data sharing feature, but rather than just tick a box in your settings, you’ll have to follow this link and select which companies you want to opt out from.

The social network said that it is also possible for members to opt out using its iOS and Android apps.

This article was originally published on the Inquirer.

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