One of the main ways in which companies use our online data is to fuel the sale of targeted ads. Data from our searches and online activity is collected, stored, and sold to advertisers so that they can target us with relevant ads. Most people are aware of this practice, but few realize that there are actually some steps you can take to block it from happening.
First off, you can head over to the Digital Advertising Alliance to assess which websites collect your data for the purpose of ad targeting.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Go to https://youradchoices.com/control.
- Click Visit the WebChoices Tool and let it do a scan.
- Click continue to see the full list.
- Check the Opt Out box for each site, or just click Select All at the top.
- Press the Submit Your Choices button at the bottom.
This is a great way to take care of the smaller sites you may have forgotten about. For the big sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google you can also turn off targeted ads on each site. The instructions listed below will work on either desktop or mobile.
Turning off targeted ads on Facebook:
- Head to Settings, then select Ads.
- You’ll see your Interests first. To remove an interest, hover over it and select Remove.
- Do the same for the tab called Advertisers you’ve interacted with.
- Click on the Your Information section. Here you can choose which info advertisers see about you, such as your employer and marital status.
- Then head to Your Categories for more deletable info.
- Next, click on the Ad Settings option. Disable the section for Ads based on your use of websites and apps. You can disable the two other options as well.
- Lastly, you can go to the Hide Ad Topics section. If there are any specific ad topics you’d like to block, you can do so.
Turning off targeted Twitter ads:
- Head to Settings and Privacy.
- Select Privacy and Safety.
- Find the Personalization and Data option.
- Click Edit beside “Allow All.”
- In this menu, you can pick and choose which personalization settings you want to keep and which ones you’d like to get rid of.
Turning off targeted ads on Instagram:
- If you see an ad you don’t like, tap the three dots in the upper corner of the post.
- Select Hide or Block the ad.
- If you hide an ad, fill out the box that pops up to tell Instagram why you hid the ad.
Turning off targeted Google ads:
- Go to https://adssettings.google.com/authenticated.
- If you’d like to turn off targeting across the board, just turn the toggle entitled Ad personalization is on, to the off position.
- If you want to update your targeting to get more relevant ads or delete any particular categories, you can click on each segment individually.
Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t yet have targeted ad settings, so you’ll have to do that process for every ad you don’t want to see. At this point, you’ve done pretty much all you can do. You’ll still see some ads in your feed, but they won’t be as creepy. These sites won’t pull your user data and sell it to advertisers, and taking that power back feels pretty great.
The BIGtoken blog brings you tips on data privacy and how to best manage your data everywhere. Get ready to claim your data.