- Facebook released a tool that lets people see how it tracks their “off-Facebook activity.”
- The social network tracks the websites, apps, and even real-life stores that users visit in order to target highly-tailored ads to them.
- Mark Zuckerberg first promised that Facebook would release an off-Facebook activity tracker in the wake of the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Facebook is watching you – but thanks to a newly-unveiled feature, it’s now possible to keep tabs on how Facebook is tracking your activity.
Facebook rolled out its Off-Facebook Activity tracker earlier this year. The tool gives users an itemized list of the websites, apps, and real-life stores Facebook knows that they visited, and lets them turn off that tracking.
The feature fulfils a longstanding promise from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who vowed in 2018 to build a “clear history” tool for Facebook users. At that time, Facebook was in the midst of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, wherein several apps were accused of improperly accessing the personal information of 50 million people. After Zuckerberg promised the “clear history” tool, Facebook slightly changed course and renamed the tool “Off-Facebook Activity,” stating that it wouldn’t be possible for users to delete all their data from Facebook.
The tracker shows information that Facebook has gathered about your activity off the app in the past 180 days. Facebook learns that information from its advertising partnerships with third-party apps and websites, which voluntarily tell Facebook the identities of people who visit them. Many physical stores do the same thing.
Here’s how to use the new Off-Facebook Activity tracker, and how to turn off some – or all – of that tracking.
Go to your Facebook settings, then select “Your Facebook Information.”
Under “Your Facebook Information,” select “Off-Facebook Activity.”
Here is a direct link to the Off-Facebook Activity settings page.
You’ll be greeted by some information explaining Facebook’s methods for tracking your activity outside the network.
A banner will preview some of the websites and apps that Facebook knows you’ve used. Click on the app icons to see a full list of those sources.
Here is a direct link to the full activity list.
The full list will include third parties that shared your activity with Facebook in the past 180 days. Clicking “Clear History” will delete this information that Facebook has saved.
In my case, over 600 apps and websites had shared my browsing history with Facebook.
To turn this tracking off, click on “Manage Your Off-Facebook Activity” from the menu on the right side of the screen.
Toggling the switch next to “Future Off-Facebook Activity” will stop Facebook from saving your future activity to your account. However, it doesn’t stop third parties from sending Facebook information about you.
Here is a direct link to the future activity settings page.