Andrew Hilts on Facebook’s advertising opt-out

Open Effect Executive Director Andrew Hilts was recently quoted in a Toronto Star article discussing Facebook’s latest privacy policy change. The policy change makes clear that the company uses the web browsing history of its users in order to better target advertisements according to user interests. While Facebook mentions users can opt out of seeing ads based on this profiling, the company does not clarify that the opt out does not prevent the company from continuing to track the user’s web browsing.

Hilts was quoted as saying “There’s a big difference between not using data for personalized ads and not collecting that data in the first place.” This distinction is an example of a larger gulf regarding online tracking between some privacy advocates and the advertising industry. Privacy advocates have championed the “Do Not Track” standard, that allows users to express their non-consent to being tracked. The advertising industry, under the umbrella of the Digital Advertising Alliance, favour the opt-out approach used by Facebook, where the tracking still occurs, but ad personalization does not.