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Facebook Ads Are All-Knowing, Unblockable, and in Everyone's Phone

Sheryl Sandberg’s top concern as she prepares for New York’s largest annual gathering of advertising and media executives this week has nothing to do with ad-blocking software or click fraud. Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, can brag to Advertising Week attendees about how the world’s largest social network is largely immune to forces that have sent Internet and publishing companies into a panic. But Sandberg is losing her voice, so her pitch will need to be succinct.

Between sips of strawberry water at the company’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters, Sandberg explains how Facebook has avoided controversies around online advertising with its emphasis on a single account tied to a user’s real-world identity and subtle ads that can be easily scrolled past if the user isn’t interested. What advertisers want, according to a raspy-voiced Sandberg, is “to reach people in a way that feels good, that’s not intrusive.” The argument ignores that Facebook trackers are just about everywhere on the Internet. But because most of Facebook’s 1.49 billion users routinely access the service through an app, the ads cannot be hidden using one of the many blocker tools now topping the download charts on Apple’s App Store.

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