Data Privacy is no longer real and almost every other platform out there - namely Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon and so on are intruding in to our personal lives at levels we may never realize are possible.


I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

Our digital identities are no longer our own - and with every new app or website - we visit or use - our click stream is being tracked and redistributed to advertisers almost in real time.

For every ad - we interact or see on platforms like Facebook - we are added to the list of categories - which are used by advertisers to promote. In some cases - these instances look so creepy and intrusive - especially when we get to see ads based on our conversations and web surfing activities.  

It is a known fact that Social platforms (Facebook or Instagram) & search engines (Google or YouTube) primarily show advertisements because they operate on freemium model. Except for YouTube - we have very limited control on the ads that get shown to us on Google, Facebook, Instagram or other social platforms.

Social Media Stats - Canada 2021:

  • There were 32.20 million social media users in Canada that is 84.9% of the total population of 37.90 million in January 2021.
  • 37.14 million people (98% of total population) are mobile users - primarily with people living in urban areas (around 81%) and over 35.63 million are having access to internet.
  • Average users aged between 16 to 64  are spending 1 hour 46 minutes per day each day on social media. Each internet user in canada is having on an average 6.8 social media accounts.
  • Among social platforms - Facebook is leading with 22 million monthly active users, followed by YouTube (32.2 million), Instagram (15 million), and LinkedIn(18 million).
  • As shown in the above visual - a lot of people between age groups of 25 and above in both genders are active on social media with their profiles being targeted for advertisements across platforms.
Source: Social media audience advertisement profile - Canada - Data Reportal

I use social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram - and till recently I was using Google Chrome as a default browser on my mobile. I did not make any changes in settings in any of these apps.

When I was checking on the ad preferences on Facebook - I was surprised to learn that I was listed under more than 100 interest categories - which were compiled under my Facebook profile from the time - I installed the app on my phone.

My click stream is getting tracked when I search for something on Google and visit a website which uses trackers such as Facebook Pixel and other related tools to share my data with social platforms. Because of this, I keep seeing ads from advertisers for related categories or information.

In this process, I got added to many of those interest categories with out me actually knowing that my click stream is being redistributed. What is concerning is that even though we try to restrict the exposure - social media apps such as Facebook do not commit on excluding us from ads totally and they will continue to show ads - which are related to those categories - if their machine learning and AI algorithms think those ads are relevant.

Protect Your Privacy on Social - Grow With GOVIND

Well, it is technically possible to control the data intrusion to some extent - provided the users are actually made aware of these click stream tracking scenarios from various social and digital media platforms. Moreover, considering the fact that the median age in Canada is 41.2 years - I believe as we go higher in the age groups in to senior population - not many of them must be aware of these data intrusions and are not normally technically aware to set things right.

Although it might sound too technical, it is possible to control data intrusion to some extent by following the privacy setting instructions given below:

Follow the instructions below to secure your data:


  • Step 1: Clear the data - Facebook gets from around the web

Facebook collects massive amounts of data of all our activities beyond Facebook - on the websites you visit, apps you use, services you use, places you visit and many more data points leading them to what we are upto in the real world - almost in real time.

Check below for my stats - as you can see - Facebook is tracking more than 627 different data points - especially on apps I am using, websites I am visiting and many more personal data - I was not even aware of being tracked.


Sounds very intrusive right? To get over them, follow the instructions listed below:

On a desktop: Click the down arrow in the top right of the Facebook home page > Settings & Privacy > Privacy Shortcuts > View or clear your off-Facebook activity > Manage Your Off-Facebook Activity.

  • Step 2: Keep your location private:

Facebook can track your location to target you for specific location based ads from businesses. This can possibly be restricted by limiting the device's location settings.

On an iPhone: Go to the phone’s Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Facebook. Then click either “While Using the App” or “Never.”

On an Android phone: Go to the phone’s Settings > Location > App access to location > Facebook > Select “Allow only while using the app” or “Deny.”

  • Step 3: Control ad preferances

On an Android phone: Click on the sandwich button on top right > Go to the phone’s Settings under Settings & Privacy > Permissions > Ad Preferances

Under Ad Preferances you can see three options.

Advertisers - list of advertisers - whose ads you have seen in the recent past. You can click on Hide Ads to manage whether or not you want to see those ads.

Ad Topics - Here there is a list of various topics - although we can restrict the ads totally - but we can opt for lesser ads in a certain category.

Ad Settings - Here you can find options to manage data used to show you ads.

Data about your activity from partners: Disable this settings from your profile to stop Facebook showing you personalized ads based on your activity on other websites.

Categories - As we start using Facebook app - they continue to tag you under various interest categories - with out you even noticing it and that happens almost in real time.

I realized it after visiting an ecommerce platform for a product I was trying to buy - I was tagged almost instantly once I visited that website and the next amount there was an ad popping up in my feed!

These interest categories populate regularly - so we may need to manage it frequently.

Similarly, we are tracked with Audience based advertising on Facebook and off Facebook.

Instagram: Ad Settings under Instagram are similar to Facebook and can be managed collectively for both the platforms.

Conclusion: Data Privacy is indeed a very big concern - and unless we realize the extent of data intrusion we are subjected to - we may never realize the complexity of the issue.

What do you think is more ideal in this scenario? Would you want to manage the advertisement settings on your devices? Did you ever feel that your data was being compromised?

What steps are you taking to protect your privacy? Share your thoughts on this topic Or maybe you have a tip that I didn’t cover here.

Either way, head over to my contact page - to connect with me to discuss more on this topic or for clarifying any technology questions you have.

I look forward to interacting with you. Click on: Contact Me

Source: Data Reportal