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Truth and Advertising IRL: Stop Targeted Ads from Following You

Ads following you around much like a stalker in flesh and blood are not just featured in the iconic South Park episode Truth and Advertising, but part of the online reality we live in. Interest-based, or targeted, advertising is here and it is here to get us. Luckily, there are some ways we can (try and) escape its tentacles.


First of all, let us clarify that there is a term for targeted advertising that looks like a term taken out of a psychology textbook: behavioral advertising.

Behavioral advertising is a method widely used by online advertisers to display targeted ads to users (also known as consumers). The whole procedure is possible because of all kinds of data collection technologies employed by all kinds of organizations, be it first or third parties.

In other words, we wouldn’t be witnessing targeted advertisements, if our browsing behavior wasn’t being monitored 24/7. However, targeted ads may serve as a reminder that nothing is free, including the online services that are advertised as ‘free-of-charge’.

Just remember:
Nothing is free of charge, as we pay via the personal information we willingly share about ourselves, no matter if we realize it or not. Reading privacy policies and terms of use may actually help us understand what is being collected, what is being shared or sold (to third parties and partners), and what can be used for marketing purposes (like photographs we share).

The question is…

Do we care, and if we do, do we care enough to make it stop?

The very same services that are supported by targeted ads provide the option to opt-out of interest-based advertising. So, if you are tired of seeing “relevant” advertisements following you from page to page, continue reading.

Here’s how to opt-out of targeted advertising in Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, iOS, Android (via Labnol.org).

N.B. Because many services use cookies, your preferences will be cleared whenever you clear your browser cache.

Opt Out of Targeted Ads in Google

Go to Google.com/settings/ads and learn how to control your Google ads.

You can control the ads that are delivered to you based on anonymous information by editing these settings. These ads will more likely be useful and relevant to you and your Google services, such as search.

Opt Out of Targeted Ads in Microsoft

Visit Choice.microsoft.com and make sure to turn off “Personalized ads in this browser”. By doing this, you will be viewing generic ads.

And if you have truly dedicated yourself to stopping personalized ad content, don’t get fooled by powdered words such as:

To create a more customized online experience, some of the ads you may receive on Microsoft websites and apps are tailored to your previous activities, searches and site visits. You’re in control and here’s where you can make the advertising choice that’s right for you.

Windows users, make sure to go to the Start menu, then Settings, then Privacy, and disable whatever doesn’t appeal to you. Also, while you’re there, read the Privacy Policy:


Opt Out of Targeted Ads in Amazon

Amazon also targets your browser with tailored ad content on its own websites and also its external websites. So, visit Amazon.com/gp/dra/info and activate “Do not personalize ads from Amazon for the Internet Browser”. Keep in mind that this is a cookie-based setting that is not linked to your Amazon account. If you clear your cookies, the settings will be cleared too.

Opt Out of Targeted Ads in Yahoo

If you’re a Yahoo user, visit Yahoo’s Ad Interest Manager, and select the Opt Out button to opt out of targeted advertising.

Limit Ad Track in iOS

iPhone and iPad users, take your device and go to Settings, then Privacy, the Advertising, and turn on Limit Ad Track. This way, you will be spared targeted ads coming from Apple’s advertising network.

Opt Out of Interest-Based Ads in Android

Android users, take your device and open the Google Settings app, then tap Ads and activate the Opt out of interest-based ads. Keep in mind that if you clear your cache, this option will be cleared too.

Turn Off Tailored Ads in Twitter

Visit your Twitter account, then go to Settings and uncheck the option “Tailor ads based on information shared by ad partners”. Make sure to do the same on your Twitter mobile application. Go to Settings, then Privacy, the Advertising. Now, enable the Limit Ad Tracking setting. You are free of tailored ad content.

Stop Tailored Adverts in Facebook

Go to Settings, then Adverts and modify whatever you dislike about your current ad situation.


In Addition

There are a couple of other things to do, if you’re willing to stop interest-based ads altogether, on any website or device. Make sure to visit these two pages that will assist you in opting out of tailored ad content:

Now, do you feel better?

Milena Dimitrova

An inspired writer and content manager who has been with SensorsTechForum since the project started. A professional with 10+ years of experience in creating engaging content. Focused on user privacy and malware development, she strongly believes in a world where cybersecurity plays a central role. If common sense makes no sense, she will be there to take notes. Those notes may later turn into articles! Follow Milena @Milenyim

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