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CBS12 News Investigates: How to stop Facebook from tracking your every move

(MGN)

Tracking your every online move.

If you've been on Facebook lately, you've left behind a trail and that means you could very well see ads pop up everywhere for products and services you searched or viewed.

It's almost like a private investigator is hot on your trail. Facebook can track your online habits and keeps a record of it and then can sell some of that information to advertisers.

A few clicks here and there can be an advertiser's dream come true.

"Every day almost,” said, Shannon Bagford, owner of SkinCare by Shannon.

Bagford is always looking for new products and lately she’s been seeing ads on Facebook for those very same products and services and that caused her to do a double-take.

“"How do they know that specific thing? And it automatically showed up on Facebook and I'm like, that's weird," she said.

It may be weird for Bagford, but it makes a lot of sense for Facebook as it records what sites she visits, what she likes and what she buys.

“It definitely makes me feel kind of uncomfortable,” she said. “How in the heck did they get that information? What else are they getting from me?"

A lot of information apparently, according to CBS12 News tech expert Craig Agranoff.

Agranoff has been building apps and websites for more than a decade.

"These websites install a small snippet of code onto their sites and it allows Google and Facebook to follow you,” he said.

It collects information as you go from site to site, remembers what you like, what you buy and what’s important to you. It’s essentially lurking in the background, then giving that information to third-party companies that want your business.

"Most of the information that these companies have that spooks us out are things we've provided them with and we just don't realize it,” Agranoff said.

"I do feel like it's a lack of privacy, obviously, an invasion,” said Victoria Piroso of Victoria’s Luxury Estates of Palm Beach.

Piroso says it's important to keep her clients' personal information under lock and key and that’s why being tracked is one of her major concerns.

"The dark side of having these cookies track you is they know a lot more about you than you want to know,” she said.

That's why you'll often find Piroso on Worth Avennue buying gifts for her clients at brick and mortar stores where Facebook can't see.

Besides going to the store, there are other ways to stop those advertisers from latching on to your private data.

One way is by using an incognito window, so the browser doesn't know it's you. On Google Chrome, simply click on the drop down menu and click "new incognito window."

You can also delete your browsing history. To do that, click on the dropdown menu on your browser, click on "history," then click "history" again and then "clear browsing data."

It’s important to remember that doing this also gets rid of your saved passwords and makes it take longer to load those websites again later.

You should also change your privacy settings on Facebook.

To do that, go into your settings and click on "ads." Once there, click "ad settings." After that, select “not allowed” for the first two options and then click “no one” for the third option.

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