Its no secret that Facebook generates targeted advertisements based on information supplied by its users. Relevant advertising is lucrative for Facebook, and arguably provides more useful ads to end users. Targeted advertising is the primary source of Facebook's revenue. In Q3 2016 alone, Facebook made $6.816 billion dollars in ad revenue. Fortunately, Facebook provides users some transparency and control over information they have submitted to Facebook and control over how that information is used for advertising purposes. Facebook also generates advertisements with information provided from several third-party data providers. Unlike user-provided data, Facebook lacks transparency surrounding third-part information. Precisely what information Facebook collects from third-party data providers isn't fully known, but likely includes personal finance, behavioral, demographic, and health data. Third-party data allows advertisement generation for specific partner categories such as "high income" or "hot cereal buyers" Facebook users.
You can opt-out
If you have objections to your personal information collected by third-party firms and sold to Facebook in aggregate, you can opt-out from this practice. Facebook and its third-party data providers have agreed to provide users the ability to opt-out from having their information sold to Facebook as outlined on the Facebook help page titled "How does Facebook work with data providers?"
United Kingdom third-party Facebook data providers opt-out links
- Oracle Data Cloud
United States third-party Facebook data providers opt-out links
- Acxiom opt-out
- Epsilon opt-out
- Experian opt-out
- Oracle Data Cloud opt-out
- TransUnion opt-out
- WPP opt-out
As an US Facebook user, I opted out of all of the US data providers on this list. This process will likely take at least thirty minutes, so set some time aside before you attempt to opt-out of these various data providers.
- Acxiom was very easy to opt-out of. It only took me a few minutes to fully opt-out from their data sharing. After providing all possible spellings of my name, previous addresses, phone numbers, and email address, I was able to opt-out with a signle submission.
- I found opting out of Epsilon to be more difficult. Epsilon's opt-out page took considerable time to read. Additionally, Epsilon had several different actions I had to take in order to fully opt-out of their data sharing. Unfortunately, it appears that Epsilon only has a temporary means of opting out of "relevant advertising" by installing a cookie on your browser from http://www.networkadvertising.org/choices/. If you use multiple devices, you'd have to install this cookie on each device. Additionally, whenever you clear your browsing history or use a private/incognito browser mode, this opt-out cookie will be lost.
- Experian was more involved than Acxiom, but more intuitive than Epsilon. I had to send separate emails to opt-out of direct mail, email, and some online targeting advertising. Similar to Epsilon, I had to install cookies to opt-out of certain online targeted advertising and partner advertising. As stated previously, cookies are not a permanent opt-out solution.
- Oracle Data Cloud
- Unfortunately, Oracle Data Cloud does not offer a permanent means of opting-out of data sharing. However, it provides links to three websites that allow you to install opt-out cookies with 20 year expiration periods:
- TransUnion provides two opt-out options. You can either opt-out electronically at OptOutPrescreen.com for five years or you can opt-out permanently by mail. I elected to opt-out for five years as I preferred an electronic opt-out process over a direct mail opt-out process. The electronic process was straightforward, but must be repeated every five years.
- Similar to Epislon, Experian, and Oracle Data Cloud, WPP offers an electronic opt-out cookie. For a more permanent opt-out, you can opt-out of KBM Group's iBehavior's master database by mail or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org as outlined on their Opt-Out Policy Page.
Review Facebook settings
If you happen to go thru the effort of opting out of third-party data sharing with Facebook, you may want to also consider revisiting your Facebook General, Privacy, and Ads settings for your account. Of particular interest are the Ads settings, which allow you to disable features such as "Ads based on my use of websites and apps", "Ads on apps and websites off of the Facebook Companies", "Ads with my social actions", and "Ads based on my preferences".