These regulations required broadband internet companies to get permission from their customers before using their “sensitive” data. This means they needed to ask you if it was okay to use your browsing history and location to create targeted advertisements.
Obviously, it’s not just the targeted advertising that makes people upset. It’s the fact that 1) there has been very little, if any, public support for the bill, and 2) targeted advertising is just the start to innumerable invasions of privacy that this bill has opened us up to.
But, since we’re a personal finance blog and not a conspiracy blog, we’ll take a look at how this bill can affect your wallet.
The justification behind much of targeted advertising is: you’re going to see advertisements anyway, why not let companies access your browsing history so they can customize your advertising experience.
You can already see where this is going. That means every time you look at a pair of shoes and decide not to buy them because you really don’t need another pair–you’ll end up seeing that advertisement on every other website or video you watch for the next week.
Advertising works because it changes the way we think about ourselves, says a Harvard University study.
If we know ads are being targeted at us, surprisingly, we’ll like them better. In the study, a group of undergrads were shown advertisements and researchers found that they liked the ad for a Groupon for a restaurant targeted towards them that was advertised as “sophisticated.”
Who doesn’t like being told they’re sophisticated? This is how targeted advertising works. It shows you products that help make you into the person you want to be based off of what you’ve searched in the past.
How does this make you spend more?
If you’re thinking, there’s no way this will actually work on me. I have some willpower, I won’t click on every ad I see. You’re probably right. You won’t click on every ad you see—but advertising is meant to stick with you long after you’ve seen the product. It’s a billion dollar industry that’s growing fast. They know what they’re doing.
Ads are for brand-name products
Ads are never for off-brand or store-brand products. That’s because the big brand-name companies are the ones that can afford all those ads on Facebook and other social media sites.
If you see the same brand name a couple thousand times a day on Facebook, TV, and a host of other sites, it’s going to be the first name you think of when looking for the product, no matter if you believe you’re susceptible to ads or not. The cold hard truth is—you are.
After all, there’s a reason companies spend millions on Super Bowl Ads—it’s because they work.
Advertisers tells us we want bigger and better
If you’ve ever seen an iPhone commercial, you know that we’re constantly being told we want bigger and better products. With the iPhone that’s literally true. Phones are getting bigger and every time a new version is released we expect Apple to release the newest technology. Even when we absolutely don’t need it.
I’ll admit, I think the portrait-style pictures available on the new iPhone seven are pretty cool, but that does nothing except entice us to spend over $700 on a new phone.
What can you do to stop it?
The age old way to stop your internet provider from selling your browsing history is to stop using the internet.
Alright, are you done laughing?
You’d be surprised how often this is suggested by older politicians. They seem unable to believe that most of the American economy is somehow connected to the internet.
Let’s look at some real ways you can put an end to this invasion of privacy.
Block Facebook ads
Since Facebook is where advertising reigns, learning to block target ads could help you from spending on what you don’t need. Here’s a step-by-step guide to blocking Facebook advertising.
Block Google ads
If you think Facebook is bad, Google is even creepier when it comes to target advertising. Google not only uses your browsing history, but it tracks what you watch on YouTube and uses your personal information from your Gmail account.
Luckily, the one thing Google does right, is provide a fairly easy way to block a lot of these ads. You just have to set up AdBlock for Google Chrome.
Get a VPN
A VPN (virtual private network) is for those who are really into making sure their internet privacy stays intact. In short, a VPN
create[s] a secure, encrypted connection between your computer (or phone, tablet, &c.) and a private server somewhere else, preventing anyone else from seeing or modifying that traffic.
Although this article has been about the evils of spending money on unnecessary advertisements, VPNs are, unfortunately, not free. You can use VPNs like Cloak, and pay a monthly fee of just $10.
Tor is an alternate browsing site that doesn’t save your browsing history. I use Tor, and find it does block targeted advertisements, but it is a little slower than Google and there’s no internet history to go back to if you accidentally close a page.
A lack of internet privacy is bad for a host of reasons, but especially you’re spending habits. Advertising has proved effective over and over again, and ads targeted directly to you are likely to be even more enticing.
- Facebook Is Tracking Your Every Click So You’ll Spend More–Here’s How To Stop It
- Change Review: Can Artificial Intelligence Change The Way We Think About Spending?