I generally don’t buy clothing that displays noticeable branding. I’m not completely immune from allowing my body to be used as a billboard, however. Although I don’t wear shirts emblazoned with “GAP” across the front, someone who checks me out from the back might see a Lee or Levi’s label. Some shirts might have a small logo sewn into the chest. Although I try to keep it to a minimum, I’m not completely free of advertising when I walk down the street.
If brands wanted customers to be advertisers, they should pay those customers rather than requiring those customers to buy the products. It doesn’t work that way, for the most part. In some cases, you can sell ad space on your body, but then the advertising itself becomes a story.
Some brands, even those with hardly noticeable logos-slash-advertising, are perceived as exclusive, and customers feel proud when they can show off the brands. It’s a subtle way of showing the world that you belong in a certain club, and from a psychological perspective, it’s comforting. Facebook uses this to their advantage to drive revenue from advertisers, but when you wear a shirt for a logo, at least you know that you’re part of an advertising campaign. With Facebook, you might not know.
Everything you “like,” Facebook is watching you, and if what you “like” corresponds with one of Facebook’s advertisers, your face could be seen in sponsored items in people’s news feeds or in Facebook’s sidebar ads. Furthermore, the more things you “like,” the better idea Facebook has on what ads it can show you.
If you “like” something ironically or as a joke, Facebook assumes its an endorsement, and unless your account settings prevent it, your smiling face might appear next to embarrassing products.
Here’s how you can prevent your actions from appearing in the advertising the website delivers to your friends.
Click on the image to the right to zoom in.
This will bring you to the General Account Settings page where you can edit your basic information. If your email address or your name changes, you can use this page to adjust your settings.
Step 3: Disable third-party ads. On the resulting page, there are two sections of concern. First is the “Ads shown by third parties” section. Click the “Edit third party ad settings” link first.
Facebook will warn you that they don’t currently allow third party companies to use your name or pictures in ads, but they might in the future. Be proactive and disable this now. Select “No one” and click the “Save Changes” button.
Step 4: Disable social ads. When companies buy advertising on Facebook, one way they reach you, a potential customer of that advertiser, is displaying an ad to you whenever a friend of yours decides to share with his or her Facebook friends that he or she “likes” that product. If you have an ad-blocking extension installed on your web browser, you may not notice this, but an ad-block extension won’t prevent what your friends see. Only a Facebook setting change can do that.
On the Facebook Ads setting page, click the link labeled “Edit social ads setting.” Where you have the option by, “Pair my social actions with ads for,” select “No one.” Click the button to “Save Changes.”
Step 5: Bonus. To completely remove the influence of advertising in your daily Facebook pursuits, you’ll need to complete one more step. In the navigation menu on the left of your screen, click the link for “Security.” The best setting for tighter privacy is only in effect after you click the link on the resulting page to “Deactivate your account.” In the real world, we don’t expect complete privacy from corporate marketers. They find us wherever we are, even if we are “off the grid.” At least on Facebook, you can remove yourself from the world without affecting your life much, if you so choose.
And now’s a good time to bring some Facebook privacy concerns to people’s attention. More and more, you don’t even have to “like” something for your friends to see your activity. In some cases, just reading an article or watching a video while logged into Facebook creates an item that tells your friends exactly what you’re doing. If you’re an active Facebook user, you’ve probably noticed “social reader” and “socialcam” application items in your news feed, sometimes with pretty embarrassing items. The above steps other than Step 5 don’t prevent applications you use from sharing your activity with your friends, however. That requires yet another Facebook setting to modify, and the settings could differ depending on the application.
Published or updated June 1, 2012.