What Does Off Facebook Activity Mean?
Facebook collects an abundance of personal data on you even when you aren’t actively using its platform, and this new tool provides insight and control over this data collection process.
This section displays a list of apps and websites that have shared data with Facebook, as well as your personal archive and options to remove it from your account.
What does it mean?
Facebook has made strides to restore trust with users amid recent privacy scandals by giving them greater control of how much data it collects from outside its platform. Recently, they introduced “off facebook activity”, an innovative new tool which shows what information your Facebook apps and websites have shared with the social network.
Facebook uses data gathered from third parties into two distinct categories. The first category involves data you provide directly, such as using its Like button or signing into your account with Facebook. The second type is comprised of tracking cookies and pixels embedded by companies into their sites or apps. These tracking tools enable companies to link your online behavior with your Facebook profile, for instance when browsing Amazon and seeing ads on Facebook for that same toaster. With its ‘off Facebook activity’ tool, however, you have greater control over this second type of data by seeing what was collected as well as disconnecting it from your account if necessary.
To access this tool, simply click on the down arrow on the top-right of your Facebook page and select Settings & Privacy. Here, you will see various settings and options available to you, including a link for off facebook activity tools.
Once you click the link to open this tool, it will provide a list of all Facebook partners who have submitted activity data to them – from news portals to banking services.
Information such as your name and browsing history have also been collected; although not sensitive details, these pieces of data allow advertisers to build tailored ads as well as deliver more relevant content to you.
While this tool allows you to clear this data and stop future off facebook activity, it should be noted that it won’t remove past activities connected to your profile; doing so would require breaking up an established connection.
How does it work?
Facebook’s Off-Facebook Activity tool, initially announced last August but only just made available this Tuesday, allows users to gain control over how many companies it tracks their real-world activities with. The tool reveals which websites and apps have shared data with Facebook about interactions such as browsing, purchasing products or taking quizzes – data which then gets used by the company to deliver ads through its platform and apps.
The Off-Facebook Activity tool can be found by accessing its drop-down menu in the top-right corner of any Facebook page, as well as from within Settings & Privacy in your account. Once clicked on, this feature displays a list of companies who shared information with Facebook about your real world activity and tracked various aspects. These may include websites you visit; games you play; videos you view or utilities used; shopping apps/websites used; events/places visited and any other online activity that might occur.”
On the left side of this page is a toggle button labelled Manage Future Activity. By activating it, this tool will stop sharing its future data with Facebook as well as any already collected information from being linked back to you or associated with your name on that platform. However, it will continue to collect similar types of data, though not linked directly with any one account or name.
However, Facebook warns that by disabling future Off-Facebook Activity you may no longer be able to log in or use certain websites and apps, or utilize their features, and no longer receive personalized experiences on its websites and apps.
Notably, switching off future Off-Facebook Activity will not impact any existing data tied to your account. Data will still be collected, but assigned an anonymous ID instead of being connected directly with you and ads may still display relevant to you based on real world activity rather than being linked directly back to Facebook.
What happens if I turn it off?
As a Facebook user, it should come as no surprise that the social network collects data about your activity on websites and apps not owned by itself. What may surprise you is just how willing websites and apps are willing to give up information about you in exchange for advertising revenue or other services from Facebook. Recently, Off-Facebook Activity provided by Facebook gives users the power to monitor what type of information is shared by third parties with Facebook as well as disconnect it from your profile in certain instances.
The tool provides a list of companies sharing data about your activities to Facebook, including an icon, name and date when your last activity was shared with them. Clicking each company allows you to learn more about its data sharing practices as well as why. If you wish to stop sharing, an archive list of information shared from each of these companies with Facebook may be downloaded; though this process could take between several minutes and days to complete.
On the Off-Facebook Activity page, there’s also a new button named “Manage Future Off-Facebook Activity.” If you switch this off, future data collected by partners won’t be tied back to your Facebook account; however, previous activity collected will still impact what ads you see on Facebook.
Off-Facebook Activity tool is an effective first step toward taking more control over what information companies like Facebook are gathering about your online behavior. While it won’t stop Facebook or other social media platforms from collecting your data immediately, you can take steps such as using Off-Facebook Activity and protecting devices with reliable anti-malware software to regain some privacy reclaiming yours if that’s what it takes – deactivating or deleting accounts is still the best solution if that is your ultimate goal!
What happens if I delete my account?
Facebook issued an update after much criticism to help its users gain control of their data and privacy. One feature, called Off-Facebook Activity, allows them to see which apps and websites are sharing information with Facebook; they can then disconnect future off-Facebook Activity by clearing data that was shared and disconnecting future off-Facebook Activity activities. This tool can prevent data being misused maliciously – however users should also install reliable anti-malware software on their device in addition to using this feature.
Off-Facebook Activity was initially unveiled in August 2019 and later made global in January of 2020, raising alarm among some users. While Off-Facebook Activity offers insight into people’s online browsing activity, it can also provide some context. Off-Facebook Activity gathers data from apps and websites which share this data through their business tools with Facebook – for instance a media site may notify Facebook when you have read one of their articles, while online stores report any items added to cart.
Facebook uses this data to display more targeted advertisements to you on its platform, while some people may be concerned. But remember that all information being shared anonymously – Facebook promises never to share your name or other personal details!
To temporarily stop Off-Facebook activity, visit the Settings page and select “Your Facebook Information.” Here, you will be able to view which data is being shared across websites and apps; once this information has been presented to you, select options from within this screen to clear and disconnect future Off-Facebook activity – this won’t stop companies from sharing information but should make ads less personalized for you.
Remember, however, that the Off-Facebook Activity tool is only compatible with Android and iOS devices and takes several days for your activity to appear on it. Furthermore, this tool doesn’t include all the data Facebook uses to build your profile for advertising purposes.