Facebook has updated its “Why am I seeing this ad?” tool to provide users with greater transparency and control over the ads they are shown as well as the reasons they are targeted.

Outlining the changes in a blog post last week, Facebook product manager Sreethu Thulasi explained that the move was in response to feedback from users, who found the old system hard to understand and difficult to navigate.

Previously, Facebook provided limited information about why ads appeared in a user’s feed – and the reasons given might be that the user fitted a suitable demographic or had visited the website of an advertising brand.

“Now, you’ll see more detailed targeting, including the interests or categories that matched you with a specific ad. It will also be clearer where that information came from (e.g. the website you may have visited or Page you may have liked), and we’ll highlight controls you can use to easily adjust your experience,” Thulasi wrote.

Importantly, these new controls include the ability to adjust ad preferences and to opt out of seeing ads entirely by visiting the account settings section, which lists all the companies holding details about a user’s personal data.

These are listed under a section called “Businesses who have uploaded and shared a list with your info”. According to BuzzFeed News: “This is the first time Facebook is actually showing you which marketing companies and data brokers have your data.”

BuzzFeed also judged that Facebook’s updated feature, which is expected to roll out fully in the coming weeks, “makes it clear which brands have actually advertised to you and which brokers have uploaded a list with your info”.

Commenting on the development, Rob Leathern, director of product management at Facebook, said: “I think it’s a good evolution of our transparency tools, and what we’re doing is listening to people’s feedback.

“We heard that even though we’d made some improvements over the last year, the tools are somewhat difficult to navigate and not as comprehensive as they’d like.”

Sourced from Facebook, BuzzFeed News; additional content by WARC staff