Account or not, Facebook will now officially track and serve you ads

Facebook will target even non-users with its new advertising plan

Facebook announced on Thursday evening that it is changing the way its advertising works across the web. The social networking giant will now begin tracking and serving ads to website visitors irrespective of whether they have a Facebook account or are logged into the network. Currently, Facebook tracks its users through cookies and social plugins across sites.

Facebook said that it would expand its ad network of third-party apps and sites, which it calls Audience Network, to allow advertisers reach people who don’t use Facebook. By providing better and more relevant ads, the company believes that it will help both users and advertisers. Previously, only Facebook users who visited these apps or sites saw the ads. Now, Facebook will attempt to identify and track third-party site visitors with its own mix of cookies, buttons, and plugins, according to The Wall Street Journal.

For those unfamiliar, Facebook’s revenue model depends on serving ads to its users, and selling their data back to advertisers. The company is looking to expand its business model, which has already earned $5 billion through advertising in this last quarter alone.

Considering Facebook’s reach and ambitions in the ad market, the move made by the social media giant is not surprising at all. This is almost the exact same cookie-based implementation that other companies, like Google, are using. Google aggregates information about Internet users through their search history, unlike Facebook who gets information directly from their users — what pages they choose to like, what geotagged photos they post of themselves and what they list as interests.

Facebook can track a user across most or even all of the web pages he or she visits by changing the code websites used to display Facebook widgets such as “Like” buttons. That information is then stored and examined by Facebook so that advertisements served by Audience Network partners are more likely to be relevant to these users.

“Our buttons and plugins send over basic information about users’ browsing sessions. For non-Facebook members, previously we didn’t use it. Now we’ll use it to better understand how to target those people,” Andrew Bosworth, Vice President of Facebook’s Ads and Business Platform, told The Wall Street Journal.

This new ad service extends Facebook’s reach across the entire internet and ad-supported mobile app marketplace, making it difficult than ever to avoid being tracked, profiled, and sold by Facebook to advertisers. No matter what, Facebook will find you, whether you have profile or not.

If you are worried about getting tracked by Facebook across sites, you can disable this action either through your account settings directly, or by dismissing one of the Facebook-served ads.

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