How Internet Ads Follow You Around

Internet ads are so invasive that we can’t blame you for thinking that Facebook is listening to you talk. It’s probably not, but it is helping ad networks track you across the internet and across your apps. Tech public policy expert Chris Yiu recently tweeted 14 different ways that ads follow you around the internet, even when you’re logged out, in incognito, using a different browser, or on a new device.

One important one is Facebook’s trackers, which are embedded on any site that integrates Facebook “like” buttons, Facebook page widgets, or other social tools:

Yiu’s list includes a few ways to minimise personalisation. For example, you can reset your phone’s unique identifier:

Unfortunately, you can’t control all tracking—Facebook and Google can collect data on you even if you don’t have an account, by scooping up your friends’ phone contacts or by logging usual browser data. This is the kind of invasive tracking and data collection that prompted the European Union to enact GDPR. So all those “we’ve changed our privacy policy” emails are a good sign—or at least a good start.


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