A series of Facebook privacy scandals, and the company's sometimes questionable efforts to clean up after them, have seen tech commentators like Bill Bennett and Paul Brislen leave the social network.

Me, I'm sticking with it. I've grimaced at a lot of what's goes on. But none of it has outweighed the usefulness Facebook has in my everyday life for staying in touch with friends, family and my local community.

But I still like to put it on a bit of a leash.

A Pew Research survey released this week found 74 per cent of Facebook users in the US don't realise the site collects their interests to target ads.


Based on what you tell Facebook, the company might be able to zero in on your interest in dogs, for instance. Maybe it guesses that you've been recently shopping for a home or a mattress or a car. For some people, Facebook takes a guess at their political beliefs and "multicultural affinity."

Those data points are then used to allow advertisers to target ads to the people who might be most likely to click on them. It's a core part of Facebook's business.

Once Pew explained this to its survey sample (963 adults) it found a slim majority (51 per cent) disapproved of the data collection.

Some 27 per cent said the data was not accurate.

The good news is that if you don't like Facebook building a profile of you, and giving advertisers access to it, you can dial things back.

In Facebook, click the settings icon (the three-line "hamburger" icon usually bottom left on a mobile or the downward facing triangle top right on a desktop) then "Settings" then "Ads" to set what information is stored or shared about you. This should land you on the "Your ad preferences screen." This link should take you straight there.

In preferences, you can see the interests Facebook has assigned to you, and delete any or all.

You can also choose to opt-out of ads that are targetted based on your relationship status, job title or level of education.


You can also see which advertisers have your contact details, and choose to hide certain topics, such as alcohol.

And, importantly, you can also opt out Facebook partners sharing data about you, and vice versa, and opt out of having your social actions on ads (such as "Liking" a company) being shared with others.

One issue with Facebook is that its rules and settings constantly change. So while preferences, it's a good time to review your Privacy settings (including how can see your posts by default) and which apps have a degree of access to your account, under Settings > Apps and Websites. It's likely the number will surprise you. If it does, you can huff right of Facebook (here's how), or just block a few of the buggers.

Part of Facebook's ad preferences screen.
Part of Facebook's ad preferences screen.