Why you should turn off “Ads with your social actions” on Facebook

By | March 3, 2018

While I was scrolling through Facebook recently, this came up in my feed:

I’ve blurred out the name of one of my friends at the top of the ad so as not to single them out. However, I can say with near-absolute certainty that this particular friend would not knowingly endorse anything that Ben Shapiro has to say about gun control.

So, why did Facebook associated my friend with content they would disagree with? Because my friend has “Ads with your social actions” enabled in their Facebook settings. Here’s how Facebook describes this:

People want to know what their friends like. That’s why we show ads to your friends based on actions you take, such as liking a Page or sharing a post. This setting applies to your likes, follows, comments, shares, app usage, check-ins, recommendations, and events you joined that appear with ads your friends see. Ads like this will only be visible to people who have permission to view the action you’ve taken.

In other words, if you have this setting enabled, and you ever interact in any positive way with any page on Facebook, then Facebook may at its discretion at any point in the future display ads associating you with any content generated by that page, even content that you did not interact with.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want Facebook implying to my friends that I approve of things that I don’t. And it’s certainly not true that if I’ve ever had positive feelings about any single bit of content associated with a page, then I will always approve of all its content. That’s why I have “Ads with your social actions” turned off on Facebook.

There’s another reason as well. Facebook’s strategy of putting people’s names on ads displayed to their friends is psychological manipulation, intended to trick them into believing the ads more and clicking on the ads at higher rates.. With all the stuff in the news about Facebook’s data and functionality being used to manipulate people, you really should think twice about facilitating this.

If you feel the same way I do, I recommend you turn off “Ads with your social actions”. To do that:

  1. Go to Facebook’s Ad preferences screen.
  2. Click on “Ad settings”.
  3. Confirm that it says “No One” next to “Ads with your social actions”.
  4. If it doesn’t, then:
    1. Click on “Ads with your social actions”.
    2. Underneath “Include my social actions with ads for:”, change “Only my friends” to “No One”.

In other words:

The change takes effect immediately, i.e., you don’t have to click a “Save” button or anything like that.

P.S. Pedantic police: why are the two drop-down choices “No One” and “Only my friends”? The capitalization is inconsistent between the two choices. Either the former should be “No one”, or the latter should be “Only My Friends”. Sheesh, Facebook.

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