Every one has a few stories about a creepy targeted ad popping up on Facebook or Instagram. Sometimes it may seem like these advertisers are listening in on your conversations, but they're not. These internet giants have become so good at tracking people online to serve them personalized ads, that they don't need to listen to you.
There are thousands of ways that you're being tracked online right now, but here are a few of the creepiest ways advertisers know exactly when to show you the "right" ads.
Did you link the contacts in your phone to your Facebook page when you signed up? Did you give Facebook your phone number for 2 Factor Authentication? If yes, then Facebook has accessed your contacts and has stored all of the data you have about them on your phone.
This means that Facebook has access to all of the email addresses you have on your phone, all of the phone numbers, all of the contact photos, any nicknames and they leave it pretty vague in the disclaimer by saying "as well as data on your phone about those contacts".
Logging Your Calls and Texts
If you have an android device then Facebook has the ability to log your calls and texts to better serve you targeted ads. Not only does Facebook have access to these calls and texts to learn more about you and gather data, they also store these calls and texts. That means your private conversations are vulnerable to hackers.
Tracking Your Location
This one probably doesn't come as much of a surprise but it is still pretty creepy. Facebook knows where you live. where you work and where you hangout and shows you ads based on those locations. They also track your location throughout the day, this is so they can show you ads based on where you are in real time.
Tracking Your Offline Purchases
Facebook can even track the purchases you make offline to better target you with ads online. Facebook pretty much knows everything you buy and tracks that data to predict what you might buy in the future.
Monitoring Your "Self Censorship"
Have you ever started typing out a Facebook status then decided against posting? Or began to comment on an Instagram post but did not send it? Facebook knows that and they track your keystrokes. They use this data to encourage you to post more updates and comment more. The more time you spend on Facebook/Instagram, the more money they make by showing you more ads.
These are just a few of the creepiest ways we know that Facebook can track us. We all have a few stories about being show an ad that was way too relevant and now you know why.