Newspaper article International New York Times

Facebook to Let Users Alter Their Ad Profiles ; A New Ability to View Dossiers of Likes and Dislikes, and Edit the Data

Newspaper article International New York Times

Facebook to Let Users Alter Their Ad Profiles ; A New Ability to View Dossiers of Likes and Dislikes, and Edit the Data

Article excerpt

The social network will allow users to see dossiers of their likes and dislikes, as well as give them the means to change, add to or delete the data.

If you have ever wondered why Facebook showed you an advertisement for a new iPhone game or a cheap flight to Bermuda, you will soon be able to find out.

Facebook announced on Thursday that it was going to give people the ability to see the dossiers of likes and interests it keeps on them, as well as the ability to change or delete information in those files.

And if you don't like an ad, you will be able to tell the social network what types of marketing messages you would rather see.

But even as Facebook gives people more control, it is foraging deeper into their activity on other sites.

Right now, Facebook's dossiers are based mostly on people's activities on Facebook, such as liking brand pages or sharing a funny ad. But starting next week, the company will also tap data it collects from people's smartphones and other websites they visit to hone ad targeting.

Users can opt out of such extended tracking, but they will have to visit a special ad industry website and adjust their smartphone settings.

"At the end of the day, it's all about data," said Debra Aho Williamson, who studies social media for the research firm eMarketer and was briefed in advance by Facebook. "Marketers want more data to be able to target people. And Facebook wants more data to make the advertising as relevant as possible."

For Facebook, giving people more control while digging further into their Internet behavior could be smart business. A record of user interests gathered by tracking their activity on the site is the basis of ad targeting on Facebook. Companies are likely to buy more ads and pay higher prices if they know that their pitches are reaching a receptive audience.

"The thing that we have heard from people is that they want more targeted advertising," said Brian Boland, Facebook's vice president in charge of ads product marketing. "The goal is to make it clear to people why they saw the ad."

Facebook's move also comes as the United States Federal Trade Commission and the White House have called on Congress to pass legislation that would better protect people's private data, including requiring companies to give people more control over the digital files collected on them. …

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