A lot of people find targeted advertising creepy – and just plain wrong if targeted at kids, especially little ones. Well, if your kids have iPhones and they have the latest operating-system software, iOS 6, then you can help them turn off apps’ ability to “learn” their interests and target ads at them. Apple calls the setting “Limit Ad Tracking.” My ConnectSafely co-director Larry Magid explains how to do that here at Forbes.com. Though not found under Privacy in iPhone Settings and therefore not very intuitive, Larry points out, it is easy, once you know where to go.
Under “Learn More” (about ad tracking), Apple explains that phones that have iOS 6 have an Advertising Identifier associated with them. What’s tracked, if users don’t “Limit Ad Tracking,” is the activity on the phone, not the user personally. That’s pretty personal, but it doesn’t “follow” the user to a new phone, for example. That’s what Apple means when it says the Identifier is “non-permanent” and “non-personal.” Apple says that, “if you choose to limit ad tracking, apps are not permitted to use the Advertising Identifier to serve you targeted ads.” With a temporary caveat: The system’s not entirely in place yet, it indicates in the next sentence: “In the future all apps will be required to use the Advertising Identifier…. Until then you may still receive targeted ads.” Kind of like the workarounds some marketers find to the FTC’s “Do Not Call” list, only hopefully temporary. [Here’s a spring 2011 PC World piece about how tracking works on Android phones (with a little less detail, it tells you how to change the settings too – hope till up-to-date).]