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Facebook uses your online activity to build an advertising profile about you. Here's how to look at (and edit) some of that information.

We’ve all heard stories about how much Facebook knows about us (or thinks it does) from following our activities on the internet, cataloging our likes, and getting us to share information on the social network.

ProPublica even built a Chrome extension to help you find some of this information. But if you want to know how Facebook perceives you, you don’t need a Chrome extension. All you have to do is visit your ad preferences on Facebook. This page is accessible from a mobile device, but it’s much easier to manage on a full-screen PC.

 

facebookadpreferences

 

Close to the top of this page you'll see a section called "Interests" with a whole lot of tiles. Each tile represents an interest, and Facebook organizes your interests under a variety of categories including sports, news, entertainments, people, and technology.

All you have to do is go through this list. If you see something that shouldn't belong—or you'd rather not have belong—just click the "X" that appears in the upper-right corner of the tile when you hover over it with your mouse. This should remove or at least reduce any ads you see related to that content.

Perhaps the most interesting section for most of us right now is the "Lifestyle and culture" section, which houses political interests. For me, personally, this area was way off. It said I had liked pages related to political parties I don't support.

My best guess as to how this happened is that in the last few weeks I've liked a bunch of articles criticizing the other side. Do that enough times and one particular candidate's name comes up more than the other's, and (perhaps) an association is made between you and the side you disagree with.

Facebook says it uses a number of sources to determine useful and relevant ads such as your profile information, location, activity (particularly likes) on Facebook, and sites you visit outside of Facebook.

It's also a little reassuring that Facebook is only mildly accurate about your interests. If it can't get my political views right, it's clear the social network's profiling tools have a long way to go in terms of development.

Here is our list of 11 thing to never say on Facebook!

Facebook is great for sharing the most special of life's moments. Like pictures of a cake, funny links, or your need for an able body to help you move a sofa.

 

But those status updates are an open announcement to everyone you know. Some information is unwelcome. Some of it is unbearable.

So, for the sake of all your friends, the following public statements are no longer allowed.

 

The birthday thank you

The only thing less sincere than the Facebook birthday wish (copy, paste the words "happy birthday!") is the day-after status update,

expressing your gratitude for the dozens of perfunctory congratulations from people you barely know anymore.

All this serves to do is remind everyone that it was, quite recently, your birthday, in the wispy hope that someone will realize they forgot and shoot you a belated message.

You don't need to shout thank you into the wind. If someone in real life wishes you a happy birthday, thank them. That's it.

Deaths

Bummer city! This stuff has no place on Timeline, because Timeline is beautiful. And a death notice, whether casual or elaborate, will only make everyone uncomfortable and cheapen the passing of the deceased. The end of a human life shouldn't be making bedfellows with a shared meme picture of a squirrel. Be respectful. Or you will be haunted.



Personal messages to your significant other

You're in love. Love is wonderful. But love is intimate, and Facebook is not. Cutesy messages ("I miss u so much babe! had a great time this weekend :-D")—these must stop.

Send a message, an email, or literally any other form of communication that isn't relayed across hundreds of news feeds.

We wouldn't walk into your kitchen and shout about how hungry we are—don't pollute Facebook with your love howls.

In fact, we'd prefer that you stop by each of our computers and just gag us by hand.

 

Hangovers

Whoa, man! Did you really drink all of those beers? No, you did not! What, you did? You drank all of those beers, and now you're hung over? So hung over!

Now we know. Now we can nod solemnly and think: Man, you are the coolest, and you have the worst hangover of all time, and you vow to never drink again.

Maybe you won't mention it again, either.

 

College admissions

Nobody cares except your close family and friends—who can be reached online directly—so stop bragging.

Unless you got into a terrible school, in which case you're just making everyone feel bad a la Facebook death announcement.

 

Exercise

Another braggart's favorite, the feat of physical strength is now a common subject of Facebook statuses.

Nobody cares about how much you just benched or how many miles you just ran. Nobody wants to see photos of you standing at the finish line of a 4k fun run.

Unless you sustained a grotesque injury during the race—we'll take a look at a shot of that.

 

Asking for money

It's great that you started a business/website/app/lemonade stand/Kickstarter/massage parlor, but asking your friends for money—especially the giant swath of

your Facebook pseudo-friends—is always a faux pas. So please, no blanket invitations to shop at your online jewelry store.

 

Romantic anniversaries

There are two people who truly care about this, and you are one of them. You can probably surmise who the other one is without using Facebook.

See "Personal messages to your significant other" above.

 

New phone number

Helpful: letting everyone know you can't be reached by phone because you dropped it in a toilet or it fell off a cliff or whatever.

Cool, we'll know to hit you via email instead. Not helpful: asking that everyone send you their phone numbers because you lost your phone and can't be bothered to actually ask us personally.

Losing your phone is actually a great excuse to rebuild your phone book with people you truly care about! If you can't remember who to ask,

odds are you don't need to be calling or texting those people anymore.

 

Bemoaning Facebook

Not even because it's ironic, but because it makes you look like a sidewalk Rapture street-shouter. Nothing makes you look less So over Facebook like

taking to Facebook to express your disapproval of Facebook. Or its privacy policies.

 

Engagements

Noticing a pattern here? This might be the only time in your life 150 people will like a status update (unless you're selected to join a manned mission to Mars).

Either way, it's a LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME move. Change your relationship status if you really want some indicator on your Timeline.

Any kind of status message beyond that is self-indulgent and irritating. You're also broadcasting your upcoming marriage to hundreds of people who won't be invited to the wedding. That isn't very nice either.

 

When it doubt, use the golden rule. Stay away from things nobody but you cares to know about or celebrate.

Then, Facebook will continue to be a firehose of semi-interesting life gristle, instead of a dump truck full of tripe.

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You can finally request that coveted blue verified Twitter badge that has eluded you for seven years.

The equally vaunted and ridiculed blue checkmarks on Twitter are no longer exclusive to elites or those with connections who have an "in" at Twitter. The company this week opened the verified account designation up to all users and put some rules in place for consideration. Many of Twitter's 310 million monthly active users don't qualify for verification, but the company is opening the secretive and invite-only process up to anyone.

Accounts of public interest, particularly those maintained by individuals and organizations in "music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas" are all up for consideration, according to Twitter. "We hope opening up this application process results in more people finding great, high-quality accounts to follow, and for these creators and influencers to connect with a broader audience," Tina Bhatnager, Twitter's vice president of user services, said in a prepared statement.

Why you should get verified on Twitter
Twitter originally introduced account verification in 2009 and has verified almost 187,000 accounts to date, according to the company. The designation is largely symbolic, but also a defensive move against the untold number of impersonators, satirists, trolls and hatemongers who roam freely on Twitter. Oftentimes the dynamic between fans and celebrities or public figures on Twitter is only rewarding if the authenticity of the user being followed is endorsed.

Trust matters on Twitter and that's exactly why anyone who wants to be verified should take steps to do so. If you carry any impact in your community, field of work or areas of heightened awareness and visibility, a verified account will let your followers know you're the real deal.

How to get verified on Twitter
Follow these steps to give yourself the best chance of getting verified.

Open your Twitter account settings and make sure you have a verified phone number, confirmed email address, a bio, profile photo, header photo, a website and a birthday (required for personal accounts only). Your tweets must also be set to public in your privacy settings.

Improve your chances of approval by having a username that reflects the real name of the person or company. The account's profile or header photo should also reflect the person or company's branding, according to Twitter.

Fill out and submit the form to request account verification. Explain why Twitter should verify your account and provide examples to help the company understand your impact. Provide at least two URLs to showcase your newsworthiness or relevancy in your field. Finally, Twitter may also request a scan or photo of a government-issued ID to confirm your identity.

Twitter says it will respond to all requests via email, and users who get denied can submit another request 30 days later.

 

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Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, headlining the annual "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams for the 2016 filing season, the Internal Revenue Service announced today.

Phone Scams Continue to be a Serious Threat, Remain on IRS "Dirty Dozen" List of Tax Scams for the 2016 Filing Season

IRS YouTube Video
Tax Scams: English | Spanish | ASL
Security Summit Identity Theft Tips Overview: English
Be Cautious When Using Wi-Fi: English
Update Your Password Regularly: English

IR-2016-14, Feb. 2, 2016 Español

WASHINGTON — Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, headlining the annual "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams for the 2016 filing season, the Internal Revenue Service announced today.

The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things. The IRS reminds taxpayers to guard against all sorts of con games that arise during any filing season.

"Taxpayers across the nation face a deluge of these aggressive phone scams. Don't be fooled by callers pretending to be from the IRS in an attempt to steal your money," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "We continue to say if you are surprised to be hearing from us, then you're not hearing from us."

"There are many variations. The caller may threaten you with arrest or court action to trick you into making a payment," Koskinen added. "Some schemes may say you're entitled to a huge refund. These all add up to trouble. Some simple tips can help protect you."

The Dirty Dozen is compiled annually by the IRS and lists a variety of common scams taxpayers may encounter any time during the year. Many of these con games peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns or hire someone to do so.

This January, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) announced they have received reports of roughly 896,000 contacts since October 2013 and have become aware of over 5,000 victims who have collectively paid over $26.5 million as a result of the scam.

"The IRS continues working to warn taxpayers about phone scams and other schemes," Koskinen said. "We especially want to thank the law-enforcement community, tax professionals, consumer advocates, the states, other government agencies and particularly the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for helping us in this battle against these persistent phone scams."

Protect Yourself

Scammers make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave "urgent" callback requests through phone "robo-calls," or via a phishing email.

Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim if they don't get the money.

Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim's name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam.

The IRS will never:

Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.

Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.

Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here's what you should do:

If you don't owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:

Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.

Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their "IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting" web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.

Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the "FTC Complaint Assistant" on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.

If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:

Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.

Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time. For more, visit "Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts" on IRS.gov.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.

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Here we explain how to set up a router as a repeater to boost your Wi-Fi signal strength.

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