We've all been there. You're browsing your Facebook feed and you think to yourself, "Hey, I was just looking at that" as you come across an ad that has an item you were just viewing on a different website. This isn't a coincidence. Facebook has the ability to track your search history in order to collect data on items that you'd be most likely to purchase. This information is then used to showcase specific items to you within ads.
Currently, a feature is being developed and tested which will provide you with a bit more privacy. This "Off-Facebook Activity" provides the functionality to allow you to block Facebook from tracking your search history. Although a release day has not yet been finalized, it is currently being tested in smaller markets. After the completed roll-out is released, advertisers should expect to see an initial hit in all types of marketing demographics.
"Off-Facebook Activity is an obvious feature I want use. Why would I want Facebook knowing my search history?"
It's clear that this will be the case for many Facebook users who hear about this functionality. Many people will turn to their Facebook profiles and immediately activate it. However, it's important to keep in mind that turning off this feature will not decrease the amount of ads that you see while browsing Facebook. These ads will still be targeted to you, but they'll be based off your location and other information you've previously provided to Facebook (age, education history, relationship status, etc).
Playing Devil's Advocate
"Bring on the advertisements, as long as they're specific to my interests."
While this might be an unpopular opinion, you have to remember that you're going to be served ads regardless if you have the feature turned on or not. Why not ensure that it's something you're actually interested in? We all know how boring it can be to flip through the TV channels at home, dodging commercials for items or services we're clearly not interested in. Embrace this new technology and enjoy the advertisements you're being shown.
In a bid to become a bit more transparent, you'll finally have clarity as to how and why you're being shown certain ads on Facebook. And you can have peace of mind knowing you have the capability to turn off this feature and to be in charge of your own data. Will you use this feature?