Facebook Launches New Tool To Control User Data In Third Party Websites

Clay Curtis
August 22, 2019

Users can do this for all of their off-Facebook activity, or just for specific apps and websites.

The Off-Facebook Activity setting will let you drill down into exactly what data various apps or sites are sharing about you - Facebook says the average smartphone user has 80 apps and uses 40 of them every month, so the list could be long.

A feature in settings called Off-Facebook Activity will show all the apps and websites that send information about you to Facebook, which is then used to target ads more effectively.

Facebook is adding the new tool as part of a new section of its service called "Off-Facebook". Users can also block companies from reporting their tracking data back to the social media giant in the future.

Off-Facebook Activity provides consumers with safety, security, knowledge, transparency and control, and is also an educational tool, said Randall Rothenberg, CEO of IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau). As a result, Facebook won't know which websites the user visited or what the user did there, but the data will still exist on Facebook's servers without identifying information.

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The social network, which said somewhat defensively "this is how much of the internet works", added that it expects disconnection "could have some impact on our business, but we believe giving people control over their data is more important".

The new feature will be rolled out first in Ireland, South Korea and Spain, and then everywhere else over the coming months, Facebook said. As privacy experts have pointed out, you won't be able to delete that data, but you will be getting new ways to control it.

Rather the user will purely have the alternative to detach the information from his or her account.

Facebook has built an extensive network of tracking technology outside of its core social network to bolster its targeted advertising business. On Tuesday, Facebook said it was changing its practices related to that data - kind of. This new tool has given clients to access their off-Facebook activity, feedback to Facebook to target advertisements and give the option of deleting to the users. The company makes most of its revenue from targeted ads, and de-coupling browsing data from a user's profile will make it harder to show users relevant ads. As Wired reported in January, a Pew Research Centre study found that the vast majority of US users wasn't aware that Facebook tracked their interests or that there was a section of the site where they could change their advertising settings. The company originally said it would take a couple of months to structure this tool but it was long detained until now.

With Off-Facebook Activity, users can choose to either continue seeing said information, disconnect the information from their account, or simply choose to disconnect the Off-Facebook Activity feature from their account altogether.

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