Facebook member or not, the social networking giant will soon follow you across the web -- thanks to its new advertising strategy.
From today, the billion-plus social network will serve its ads to account holders and non-users -- making one giant push in the same footsteps as advertising giants like Google, which has historically dominated the space.
In case you didn't know, Facebook stores a lot of data on you. Not just what you say or who you talk to (no wonder it's a tempting trove of data for government surveillance) but also what you like and don't like. And that's a lot of things, from goods to services, news sites and political views -- not just from things you look at and selectively "like" but also sites you visit and places you go. You can see all of these "ad preferences" by clicking this link.
Facebook now has the power to harness that information to target ads at you both on and off its site.
In fairness, it's not the end of the world -- nor is it unique to Facebook. A lot of ads firms do this. Ads keep the web free, and Facebook said that its aim is to show "relevant, high quality ads to people who visit their websites and apps."
Though the company hasn't overridden any settings, many users will have this setting on by default, meaning you'll see ads that Facebook thinks you might find more relevant based on what it knows about you.
The good news is that you can turn it off, and it takes a matter of seconds.
Here's how you check if you're a Facebook user
Head to this link (and sign in if you have to), then make sure the "Ads on apps and websites off of the Facebook Companies" option is turned "no."
And that's it. The caveat is that you may see ads relating to your age, gender, or location, Facebook says.
You can also make other ad-based adjustments to the page -- to Facebook's credit, they're fairly easy to understand. The best bet (at the time of publication) is to switch all options to "no" or "no-one."
Not on Facebook? Here are your options
Given that this also affects those who aren't on Facebook, there are different ways to opt-out.
iPhones and iPads can limit ad-tracking through an in-built setting -- located in its Settings options.
Android phones also have a similar same setting -- you can find out how to do it here.
As for desktops, notebooks, and some tablets, your best option might be an ad-blocker.
But if you want to be thorough, you can opt-out en masse from the Digital Advertising Alliance. The website looks archaic, and yes, you have to enable cookies first (which seems to defeat the point but it does make sense, given these options are cookie-based) but it takes just a couple of minutes to opt-out.