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Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the Data Doctors Radio Program, noon Saturdays on KTAR 92.3 FM or at www.datadoctors.com/radio. Readers may send questions to evtrib@datadoctors.com.

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Posted: Saturday, July 27, 2013 3:27 pm

Blocking Facebook advertisements

Q: I’m sick of having Facebook plaster my news feed with ads! Is there any way to get rid of them so I only see what my friends are posting?

A: If you get the feeling that you’re seeing more ads on Facebook lately, you aren’t imagining things. As predicted, once Facebook went public, focusing on “shareholder value” was going to become one of the company’s top priorities.

But before you get too carried away disparaging Facebook for these moves, let’s get a little perspective. It’s the most popular social network on the planet and it’s free BECAUSE of advertising.

We must all remember that on Facebook we are not the customer, we are the product. Facebook’s customers are the advertisers and they want access to us users. If you understand this, you will understand that no matter what we try to do as users, Facebook’s prime objective is to match advertisers with their users.

Having said that, Facebook does offer tools that allow you to “manage” the type of ads that are displayed so that they become more relevant to your interests.

If you float your mouse over the top right corner of the ads that appear in the right column, an X will appear that allows you to hide the ad or all ads from that advertiser. Facebook then asks you why you want to hide the ads.

The same applies for “sponsored stories” that appear on your news feed, except it doesn’t require you to say why you want to hide the ad.

These steps won’t make the ads go away, they will just make them more relevant over time if you are willing to do the work.

What most people want is a way to block all the advertising, which can be done for the most part with a special browser add on such as Adblock Plus 

Adblock Plus is an open source community project, so it’s not the typical ad driven free tool and it blocks ads on everything your browser loads (not just Facebook).

They currently have add-ons for Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Android browsers (another great reason to stop using Internet Explorer) that focus on blocking the following:

• Sponsored ads

• Sponsored “Pages you may like”

• Logout ads

• Sponsored search results

• Sponsored pages your friends like

• Sponsored related posts of pages your friends like

• Sponsored suggested post

The Android add-on will only work when you use the browser to access Facebook, not the Facebook app.

In addition to blocking items that are clearly marked as ads, Adblock Plus can be manually configured to block things like “games you may like” or “trending videos” by adding custom filters.

Adblock Plus can only block things that are clearly structured by Facebook, so don’t expect it to always block everything especially as Facebook makes changes, but it’s about as good as it gets for the time being.

• Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the “Computer Corner” radio show, noon Saturdays on KTAR 92.3 FM or at www.datadoctors.com/radio.

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