Protecting Privacy on Facebook Can Be a Challenge

If you have a Facebook account, you may have noticed targeted advertisements, or even "strangers" being recommended for your friends list. Experts say there's a reason why those things happen. Alana LaFlore shares how you can maintain your privacy.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Although it's called "social" media, many are still concerned about maintaining some level of privacy. 

"I don't think that privacy is dead -- but I do think the challenges are getting heightened," said Yang Yang, an assistant professor at Syracuse University's iSchool. 

Wang says its likely Facebook and advertisment networks track online behavior to build targeted ads and even friend suggestions. 

"Usually that's through cookies but there's a number of emerging ways to do that," said Wang. "They can create a profile of you, of what things you're interested in, and potentially use that for their recommendations."

Wang says if that makes you uneasy, there's a number of steps you can take to opt out -- starting with Facebook's privacy settings and moving on from there. 

"So if you go to, for example Firefox or Chrome, or even Internet Explorer I believe, there is a privacy setting with something called do-not-track," said Wang. "It's a check box. So if you check it - you're essentially telling the world - do not track me."

But Wang says there's a catch. There's no legislation that makes companies honor those requests.  While he says they may not use it for targeted ads, they can still use the information for research or other purposes. According the Wang, there's another element you can use if you wish to opt out of being tracked. 

"There are various tools like browers extensions -- the famous ones are 'Ghostery,'" said Wang. "It will see whether there are any trackers from third parties. So these tools from ghostery will block these trackers."

Wang says along with using a browser extension, social networks and advertisment companies have "opt" out options on their direct websites as well. 

He says currently there are proposals at state and federal levels to regulate online advertisments and tracking. 

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