SAN FRANCISCO -- Facebook will now use personal information gathered from your activities elsewhere on the web to more precisely target advertisements on the social network.
Given Facebook's extensive reach around the globe, the development has alarmed privacy advocates who are asking federal regulators to review the matter.
In an effort to quiet concerns, Facebook said it would let users see why certain ads pop up in their news feeds, similar to what Google does. Users can then add or remove an interest to make the ads more relevant.
Facebook made the announcement in a blog post Thursday.
With its "like" buttons on websites across the web, Facebook has been able to keep tabs on what its 1.3 billion users are doing. This is the first time the company will use people's browsing history to target ads on its service.
The company is looking to ramp up revenue as it competes with Google for ad dollars.
Facebook said users have asked to see ads that are more relevant to them.
"Let's say that you're thinking about buying a new TV, and you start researching TVs on the web and in mobile apps. We may show you ads for deals on a TV to help you get the best price or other brands to consider. Because we think you're interested in electronics, we may show you ads for other electronics in the future, like speakers or a game console to go with your new TV," the company said.
If you are not interested in a new TV, a tool that you can click on each ad will explain why you are seeing the ad and make changes, Facebook said.
Giving people the opportunity to fine-tune their personal information and see more relevant ads could also boost Facebook's ad sales.
Most U.S. online consumers don't want to trade their personal data for more relevant ads, according to a recent survey by Consumer Reports.
-- USA Today