Facebook has long been one of the biggest companies on the internet, and it seems like no amount of scandals and other problematic elements of the company will ever manage to cause them many problems.
Though you probably think of Facebook as a social network, they’re also a massive advertising company, one of the largest and most important ones of the 21st century.
Every time you browse Facebook or Instagram, you’re given a slew of advertisements from Facebook advertising partners trying to target you with content every day. The advertisement targeting has gotten so precise that most people assume, half-jokingly, that Facebook is listening to their conversations using the microphones on their phones and tablets while connected to the web—a scary, Black Mirror-Esque thought. Fortunately, there’s a much simpler explanation for how Facebook can target advertisements so precisely: Facebook uses tracking pixels.
If you’re looking to delete a Facebook tracking pixel from your website, you’re probably a website owner or operator who used to advertise on Facebook. You may want to change your marketing strategy to one that doesn’t include Facebook advertising, but unfortunately, Facebook makes it hard to remove tracking pixels. This article will help you solve this problem.
If you’re an end-user, a regular consumer of Facebook who recently learned about pixels on Facebook and wants to get rid of any tracking of your browsing data, you may also find yourself between a rock and a hard place.
Still, let’s take a look at what a Facebook tracking pixel does, what you can do to work around it, whether you can truly delete the pixel, and how you can protect your privacy by avoiding being tracked by Facebook.
What is the Facebook Pixel?
If you aren’t working in the world of advertising, seeing “pixel” next to “Facebook” in a sentence probably doesn’t mean much to you. To many, the word “pixel” conjures Google’s phone line, and perhaps more accurately, their excellent cameras for which they’re named.
Perhaps you’re thinking of the pixels on the display you’re reading this on right now, millions of which make up the images and videos we consume every day online. What you’re probably not thinking about, however, is the ideas surrounding a pixel as a piece of information designed by Facebook in order to give you improved targeted advertisements, something that, to be honest, can be a bit controversial in its general use. That said, many advertisers find it highly beneficial and some consumers like seeing ads based on their interests.
Essentially, the Facebook Tracking Pixel is an analytics tool, a piece of code designed to be placed within a website in order to track users as they use a site with pixel enabled. As detailed by Facebook on their pixel site, the tool is triggered when someone visits a website and performs an action on that site. The pixel automatically reports the action, letting the site owner know that someone used their site after seeing an advertisement on Facebook.
The tracking pixel also allows for the customer to be reached again using a custom audience tool when setting up a new advertising campaign. In theory, the pixel is one of the many ways that Facebook allows advertisers of all sizes to get better at delivering ads to people who are more likely to click on the ad. The consumer benefits by seeing ads targeted to their interests though at the cost of some privacy online.
How does Facebook pixel work?
Though it may sound a bit creepy, tracking and reporting are routine these days. Google Analytics and other analytics services do something similar.
You can then see where your readers live, what devices they use, what browsers they use, how long they were on your site and what pages they accessed while they were there. You can use this information to optimize pages for certain geographic regions, for mobile, for desktop, remarket to visitors or whatever you need.
There is apparently a steep learning curve for implementing a Facebook pixel. There are also quite a few requests for information on how to delete a Facebook pixel from users who made a mistake or who no longer want it on a page.
Delete a Facebook pixel
Unfortunately, there are some major issues when it comes to deleting a Facebook pixel from your website. As with most things, Facebook makes it extremely hard to remove them from your life, and that includes deleting Facebook pixel data. It’s also important to note that you can’t delete a pixel with data on you; for example, if you’re a normal consumer on Facebook and not a business manager, you won’t be able to “delete” the pixels Facebook makes for its advertisers.
Outside of giving you more advertisements based on what you click on, the pixel is really out of the end-users’ control, unless you use ad-blocking and disable tracking on sites in order to preserve your privacy and increase your chances of not being advertised too (however, if you’re concerned about privacy as an end-user, being on Facebook might be a bad place to spend your time).
As a website owner, deleting a pixel from your site is as easy as removing the code from your site. Facebook allows you to set up your pixel using either manual code integration or by injecting the code into your website through services like Wix, Squarespace, and other prominent online sites. Because a pixel is simply a piece of code implemented into your website, you can remove it from your site by deleting the code implemented in your header.
If you used the injection method to place the code in your site, it’s also possible to delete the code using that tool. Facebook’s guide specifically uses Squarespace as a reference guide for deleting the pixel from your injected code, but it should also be similar for most online site designers.
Obviously, the major downside here comes from the fact that the site doesn’t actually delete the pixel from your Facebook business tool, even after you’ve removed the pixel from your site. What it does do, however, is remove the possibility of the pixel able to activate and track any of your consumers as they visit your site. While this isn’t the same thing as completely deleting the information, the pixel should sit in your business account, unused and unable to track any additional data on behalf of your website and advertisements.
How to Avoid Being Tracked by Facebook
If you aren’t the creator of a website, but instead, a privacy-minded individual who is worried about being tracked without your knowledge by Facebook, there’s only so much you can do when trying to avoid being tracked online by Facebook.
Luckily, by using extensions and other tools designed for browsers like Chrome, there are some steps you can take to avoid in order to make sure you’re being tracked as little as possible. Here are some tips to avoiding the dreadful pixel and to being smart with your privacy online:
- Take a look at your ad preferences: Facebook allows you to adjust some of the ad preferences on your browser, and it’s a good idea to use that tool to make sure you’re avoiding being tracked as much as possible. Obviously, you’re adjusting your tracking preferences while still living in Facebook’s world, so it’s important to make sure that you understand there’s still a good chance your Facebook account continues to track much of your information, no matter how hard you try to make it private.
- Use an ad blocker that doubles as a script blocker: uBlock Origin is a great ad blocker for many, many reasons, but it also doubles as a way to block certain scripts of the websites you visit so you no longer have to deal with them. Other tools like PrivacyBadger and NoScript do similar things when blocking sites from tracking your cookies and other ad tools online.
- Opt out of tracking: The US link to do this is right here; for those in other countries, most search engines will reveal what your ability is to opt-out of tracking depending on your location. For example, Europe has a service for all its countries here.
- Delete Facebook: Look, this one is rather obvious, but if you’re concerned about the privacy implications of Facebook tracking your account through their pixel service, the easiest way to remedy that situation is to delete your Facebook account in order to remove their site from your life altogether. If they can’t track you, you have nothing to worry about.
Like many things, Facebook has done a fantastic job at infecting the entire web and making it difficult to escape from within the mega-social network, but with a few steps, you can escape the pixel and live a fairly private life.
If you’re looking to disable the pixel you built within your business account through Facebook, outside of removing it from your website, you’ll likely find it to be a difficult task to delete it altogether. Still, by disabling the pixel and leaving it without a purpose or operation, you can make sure that both your followers and yourself are safe from the tracking processes of Facebook, giving you some privacy protection.
If you found this article useful, you might like other TechJunkie articles about privacy, including The Best Search Engines that Respect your Privacy – April 2019 and The Top 6 Privacy Tools You Should Have on Your Mac. And check out TechJunkie articles about Facebook, including How To Target Fans of Other Pages with Facebook Ads.
Have you tried to get rid of the Facebook Pixel? How did it go? Please tell us about it in a comment below!