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How Facebook Collects Data About You to Target Ads (And How You Can Change That)

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Facebook knows a lot about you, like where you work, where you live, and your relationship status. But that only covers the personal details you elect to make public online—there’s a whole list of undisclosed information Facebook compiles on each of its users for advertising purposes. If you’re not ready to delete your account for the sake of privacy, you can review and edit your own list of categories for targeted ads in a few quick steps.

A recent episode of the podcast Reply All delved into how Facebook chooses ads based on the preferences and lifestyles of its users. Cat lovers may see ads for cat food pop up beside their news feed, for instance, or someone planning a vacation may be shown ads for hotels. Sometimes, the specificity of these advertisements can feel very creepy. The hyper-targeting has even convinced some users that Facebook is eavesdropping on their private conversations through their devices (which Facebook denies), but the truth is that Facebook has learned enough about the kind of person you are to make really accurate educated guesses about what you want to buy.

So what exactly are the details Facebook looks at when targeting ads? You can find them by going to your “ad preferences” page, clicking on “your information,” and then going to “your categories.” There you’ll find everything from your political leanings and the industry you work in to the devices you own. Facebook doesn't always get these things right, but you may be surprised to learn how much the site knows regarding areas of your life you’ve never posted about in the past. I hardly ever update my profile, but according to my categories page Facebook somehow knows that I live with roommates and that I like to travel. That's because some of this information isn't based on my Facebook activity, but on information Facebook gets from my behavior on other sites.

You can get Facebook to stop using these categories to target ads by clicking the “X” beside the entry. But don’t expect the targeted ads to disappear after purging the page—according to ProPublica, the “your categories” section doesn’t paint a full picture of what Facebook thinks you like (for a more complete version of that list, you can download ProPublica’s Chrome extension).

Want a better way to get rid of targeted ads? Go back to the “your ad preferences page” and click on “ad settings.” From there, you can disable the “ads based on your use of website and apps option.” That way you can online shop without ads for the item you just bought following you back to social media.

[h/t Reply All]

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How to Spot the Convincing New Phishing Scam Targeting Netflix Users
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Netflix may send customers the occasional email, but these messages will never ask you to provide them with personal or payment info. You'll want to keep this in mind if you encounter a new phishing scam that The Daily Dot reports is targeting the video streaming service's subscribers in Australia and the UK.

MailGuard, an Australian email security company, was the first to take notice of the fraudulent emails. While similar scams have targeted Netflix users in the past, this current iteration appears to be more convincing than most. At first (and perhaps even second) glance, the messages appear to be legitimate messages from Netflix, with an authentic-looking sender email and the company’s signature red-and-white branding. The fake emails don’t contain telltale signs of a phishing attempt like misspelled words, irregular spacing, or urgent phrasing.

The subject line of the email informs recipients that their credit card info has been declined, and the body requests that customers click on a link to update their card's expiration date and CVV. Clicking leads to a portal where, in addition to the aforementioned details, individuals are prompted to provide their email address and full credit card number. After submitting this valuable info, they’re redirected to Netflix’s homepage.

So far, it’s unclear whether this phishing scheme has widely affected Netflix customers in the U.S., but thousands of people in both Australia and the U.K. have reportedly fallen prey to the effort.

To stay safe from phishing scams—Netflix-related or otherwise—remember to never, ever click on an email link unless you’re 100 percent sure it’s valid. And if you do end up getting duped, use this checklist as a guide to safeguard your compromised data.

[h/t The Daily Dot]

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7 Science-Backed Ways to Improve Your Memory
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Being cursed with a bad memory can yield snafus big and small, from forgetting your gym locker combination to routinely blowing deadlines. If your New Year's resolution was to be less forgetful in 2018, it's time to start training your brain. The infographic below, created by financial website Quid Corner and spotted by Lifehacker Australia, lists seven easy ways to boost memory retention.

Different techniques can be applied to different scenarios, whether you're preparing for a speech or simply trying to recall someone's phone number. For example, if you're trying to learn a language, try writing down words and phrases, as this activates your brain into paying more attention. "Chunking," or separating long digit strings into shorter units, is a helpful hack for memorizing number sequences. And those with a poetic bent can translate information into rhymes, as this helps our brains break down and retain sound structures.

Learn more tips by checking out the infographic below.

[h/t Lifehacker.com.au]

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