Researching Fiction and Facebook Settings


It’s not a secret that your internet travels often end up on Facebook.  It’s worse when you’re a writer because we can research some pretty odd things.  I looked one the name of one of the goose-necked cigarette things for a story–and ended up not using it–and Facebook gave me ads for them.  I don’t smoke.

Writer Anne R. Allen reported mentioning a drug in one of her Facebook posts.  She doesn’t take it.  But suddenly she was receiving MAIL from drug companies to get her to buy the drug!

So I thought I’d post something to help cut back on the weird advertising.

Part I

This step you’ll have to repeat about once a month.  The first time will be the worst because you’ll be cleaning out years worth of accumulated data.

  1. Click the upside down triangle in the upper left corner for the menu.
  2. Click SETTINGS.
  3. Click ADS.
  4. Click on YOUR INTERESTS.
  5. Go through each category and delete everything.

I was pretty shocked the first time I did this.  There was a lot of entries, dating all the way back to when I first got on Facebook.  Some of the entries were just plain strange.  Sports teams periodically show up, though I have no idea why.

Part II

You’ll only have to do this once.  As far as I can tell, it doesn’t turn back on.

  1. Scroll to the YOUR INFORMATION section.
  2. In the ABOUT YOU section, turn everything off.
  3. Then clean out the categories section.

When I first did this, it even had my “political affiliation” (which, in my word swapping, I accidentally typed affliction). It also got that wrong.  I turned it off, and its since disappeared from the list altogether.

Part III

Finally, this one will help clean things up overall.  I remember when I first signed up for Facebook, it had me select books, movies, TV, music–all data mining on consumers.

  1. In the top banner, click your NAME.
  2. Click MORE and pick something like BOOKS.
  3. Start deleting.

Part IV

While you’re at it, take a few minutes to review your friends and the pages and groups to see if there’s any you can take off.

I did a mass update myself during the 2016 election and then a second time in the last year.  I unfollowed a lot of people with the following criteria:

  1. Anyone over the top on the politics.  It wasn’t everyone, by the way.  I’m okay with differing opinions as long as it’s civil.
  2. Any writer who appeared to follow me for the purpose of selling books to me.  Not entirely sure why writers think other writers are their market…
  3. Anyone I didn’t recognize or had stopped posting.

It used to be that it was a badge to have a certain number of followers.  But I’ve seen recent traffic that social media is a great way to keep in contact with fans of the books, but it isn’t a great way to find new readers.

The landscape’s changed a lot. Now it’s important to protect yourself from the data mining.

– – –

Next week, we’ll have some more cover refreshes.

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