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BBB Tip of the Week

Have you ever wondered how some online ads seem to know exactly what and where you’ve been browsing? Many online advertisers use your Web browsing history to deliver these targeted ads.

Facebook recently announced changes to its ad network, namely the expansion of tracking users’ browsing activities to serve targeted ads. Previously, Facebook had relied solely on users’ activities within the application to determine its targeted ad content. In the next few weeks, Facebook also plans to introduce a new tool that lets you add and remove interests that trigger the ads that Facebook shows you.

For consumers who do not like the idea of online advertisers, including Facebook, using their browsing history, they can opt out. Currently the online behavioral advertising industry is self-regulated by the Digital Advertising Alliance. Participating advertisers can use the AdChoices icon, a little blue triangle in the upper-right corner of ads. This triangle indicates that the advertiser participates in the DAA and has agreed to implement the principles of the organization.

The DAA has rolled out a beta version of its opt-out program, where consumers can choose to opt out for some or all participating advertisers. However, opting out does not mean that you will no longer see online ads on Web pages or in Facebook.

If you are thinking of opting out of targeted ads, consider the following:

• You can learn more about how online advertising works from the Network Advertising Initiative at understanding-online-advertising/.

• You can opt out with the DAA at and with the NAI at href=””> /choices/.

• The opt-out choice is stored in a cookie within your browser.

• When you clear all cookies within your browser, you also clear the opt-out cookie and will need to renew your opt-out choices if you want to continue opting out.

Enforcement of the DAA principles is handled by the Council of Better Business Bureaus and the Direct Marketing Association. Links for reporting complaints to both organizations can be found at

For more tips you can trust, visit the BBB Consumer News and Opinion Blog at or call your local BBB at 509-455-4200.

By Erin T. Dodge, BBB editor


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