Facebook to serve ads based on users' browsing history

Facebook plans to start serving ads up to users based on the websites and apps they use.

It also said people would be able to opt out of this type of internet-based advertising in a bid to placate disgruntled users.

The roll-out of this type of advertising will initially start in the US "in the coming weeks", according to a blog post.

"Today, we learn about your interests primarily from the things you do on Facebook, such as Pages you like. Starting soon in the US, we will also include information from some of the websites and apps you use," Facebook said

Prior to this, Facebook only targeted users with ads based on what they did solely on the social network.

"Let's say that you're thinking about buying a new TV, and you start researching TVs on the web and in mobile apps," the firm said.

"We may show you ads for deals on a TV to help you get the best price or other brands to consider. And because we think you're interested in electronics, we may show you ads for other electronics in the future, like speakers or a game console to go with your new TV."

It said that users could avoid this by using the industry standard Digital Advertising Alliance opt out, and on mobile devices using the controls that iOS and Android provide.

It is also allowing users to have more control over what ads they see. Ad preferences is a new tool accessible from every ad on Facebook that explains why a user is seeing a specific ad and lets them add and remove interests that the company use to show ads.

"So if you're not interested in electronics, you can remove electronics from your ad interests."

In 2012, The US Federal Trade Commission found that Facebook had deceived consumers and forced them to share more personal information than they intended. The FTC made Facebook get user consent for changes to its privacy and also subjected the social network independent audits for the next 20 years.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.