As part of my research on facebook, I wanted to know what they still have on record of me. Therefore I made a download request yesterday for my information (report still pending). In the mean time I also dived into my ad preferences. It took a while to find the page as it was not linked to on the settings page as suggested in this help file. Anyway, I found it.

As far as my ad preferences go, fb doesn’t have a lot of info to go on.

During the last period I used fb more regularly, I made it a sport to actively hide all ads they showed me.

I also removed all interests fb used to serve me ads.

It is interesting fb uses the word removed for this, as they clearly have just categorised my interests differently. From allowed to use for ads, to not allowed to use for ads. They have to keep this on record, otherwise they can’t make this distinction for me.

What I hadn’t seen before was this section:

You can now hide specific ad topics. All three of them: alcohol, parenting and pets. The first is probably to serve alcoholics who are trying to stay off it, the second probably introduced for those who are grieving a lost baby and are not interested in ads for the latest and cutest baby things, and there must be a hell of load of pet haters in the world (or grievers for lost pets). You can suggest other topics, but it is not in fb’s interest to make this a long list. (BTW, I would suggest all pregnant women hide parenting ads, as you’re value goes up for advertisers. You’re in need of a lot of stuff and only want the best for your baby. Advertisers know this and will convince you to buy more than you need. The best advice I got was from a friend who said to run all purchases through the Man first (but even he turned out not to be a rational decision maker all the time) ).

An interesting pattern I noticed. The first two days I logged into fb I didn’t receive any ads. A wonderful experience I can tell you! However, today my timeline was showing group suggestions and ads again. I guess it is a strategy to not bother you with ads the first time after a long absence. It could also be that it needs to recollect some data points (which posts I’m lingering on e.g.) before knowing what to serve me. I put my money on seduction, though. Anything to lure you back into the stream.

I’m curious to see what the fb files tell me about myself. I just checked, and the file is there to download. I didn’t receive the promised e-mail to tell when the file was ready, though. The file expires on July 5th. In other words, good that I checked for it myself. More on this later.