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Here’s How Facebook Actually Tracks You – It’s Not What You Think

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I am officially creeped out.  There have been times when I was talking to a friend about a certain product that I purchased, and within a couple of hours, I am seeing advertisements for the said product.  I know that I didn’t search for it online.  So how do they know?  Well, the answer might surprise you and is actually quite simple.  The information comes from data brokers.  Creepy, right?  I mean, who are these brokers and what kinds of information do they have on me?

A data broker collects your information from various sources and depending on the broker in question, this information could come from online, offline, or both. Whenever you make a purchase online or utilize your grocery store’s loyalty card, the data on your purchases is collected by at least one company. Companies like Facebook (Instagram) then purchase this data and tell advertisers who to target.  Facebook says that they don’t specify who the data is coming from, but I’m not sure that I buy it.

The good news is that you can opt out of this kind of data collection. Let’s start by talking about who has your data.  This is really important as there are several companies that Facebook lists as “Audience Data Providers”, aka Creepers.  These companies include:

  • Acxiom
  • Epsilon
  • Experian
  • Oracle Data Cloud
  • Quantium
  • KBM Group

The bad news?  This is who they have listed right now.  This could change, as they have been known to rotate between different data providers.  If you are interested in removing your data from Facebook’s data providers, you can.  But know that it might take some time.  In order to make this a successful venture, you will need to specify exactly what you want to be left out of any data collection – including your name, phone number and any email addresses that you have.  Here’s how to make it stop:

acxiom

Acxiom

  1. Head to Acxiom’s Opt-Out Website in your browser.
  2. Click the checkboxes under the type of information that you want to remove (mailing addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses) from Acxiom’s data tracking under Acxiom Corporations’s Online Opt-Out.
  3. Choose who is the subject of this data removal: yourself, someone over whom you have guardianship or a deceased family member.
  4. Click the green + sign on the box that says Full Names.
  5. Add your name to the fields presented to you that you want to be removed from Acxiom’s data tracking.
  6. Click Add to complete adding the name to the opt-out list.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 to add more names to the list, including nicknames, former names, and married names. This list, like the other three, accepts up to 10 entries.
  8. Click the green + sign on the box that says Phone numbers.
  9. Add a phone number that you want to be removed from tracking.
  10. Click Add to add the phone number to your opt-out list.
  11. Repeat steps 8-10 to add more numbers to your list.
  12. Click the green + sign on the box that says Email Addresses.
  13. Add an email address that you want to be removed from tracking.
  14. Click Add to add the email address to your opt-out list.
  15. Repeat steps 12-14 to add more email addresses to your list
  16. Click the green + sign on the box that says Mailing Addresses.
  17. Add a mailing address that you want to be removed from tracking.
  18. Click Add to add the mailing address to your opt-out list.
  19. Repeat steps 15-17 to add more mailing addresses to your list.
  20. Click Submit.
  21. Enter the email address to which you’d like Acxiom to send your opt-out confirmation.
  22. Click Submit. Acxiom will send you an email with a link you need to complete your opt-out request.
  23. Click the link in the email from Acxiom.
  24. Click Submit on the confirmation page.

That’s a lot of steps, but if it gets the job done, it’s worth it!

epsilon

Epsilon

Contacting Epsilon to opt-out of its databases is all about direct mail. Epsilon doesn’t actually own anything like email data, so all it can do is stop providing your name and mailing address to clients. In order to opt-out of mail from Epsilon clients, you’ll need to send an opt-out request to optout@epsilon.com and provide your full name and address for the opt-out procedure.

experian

Experian

This company offers its databases to clients for several different purposes and, as a result, has seven different products from which you might want your information removed. Some of these can be opted-out of by a link, while others require you to email, mail, or call in your opt-out request. You can opt out of Experian’s databases via link for the following services:

On each of these pages, there will be a link labeled “Click here” that you can click to opt-out of the tracking performed for these services. Unfortunately, all this process does is embed a cookie in your browser so that Experian’s trackers around the web knows not to track you. This means that the opt-out is only for activity performed in your current browser on your current computer. If you want Experian to suppress the information that it has collected on you, you’ll need to send an email containing all of the relevant information that you want to be suppressed to optout@experian.com. If you’re looking to opt out of Experian’s email marketing databases, you’ll need to send an email from the address you want to opt out to unsubscribeall@experian.com, which will remove you from the company’s permission-based email database used by Experian and its partners. Finally, opt out of pre-approved offers like credit cards and insurance mailing lists by calling: 1-888-567-8688.

oracle cloud

Oracle Data Cloud

Like Experian, Oracle offers an opt-out cookie for its Internet Based Advertising product. This will prevent Oracle tools from tracking your activity in your current browser on your current machine. Here’s how to use it.

  1. Head to Oracle’s Opt-Out Tool website.
  2. Click the big, orange Opt-Out button.

You can also opt-out of Oracle’s offline marketing information collection. Follow these steps:

Head to Oracle’s offline opt-out website.

  1. Fill out the available form with your name, address, and email address.
  2. Click Submit.

quantium

Quantium

Quantium, compared to the rest of these companies, makes it fairly easy to opt-out of having your information shared with the company’s partners, including Facebook. It provides a number of links that let you opt-out of being targeted by a Quantium partner’s advertisers using Quantium-provided data.

For instance, opt out of Facebook ad targeting with these steps:

  1. Head to Quantium’s Opt-Out website
  2. Click Confirm on Facebook Targeted Advertising.

Like other services, this opt-out only applies to your current browser and computer, so you’ll need to opt out again if and when you get a new machine or start using a new browser.

kbm group

KBM Group

Like some of the others, KBM offers a cookie-based opt-out solution for your current web browser. Follow these steps to activate it.

  1. Head over to the KBM Group Interactive Opt-Out website.
  2. Click the click here button on the line that begins. “To complete the opt-out process,”.

If the opt-out it successful, you’ll be taken to a screen that says so.

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