It’s probably foreign news to many people that Facebook tracks their activities even after they have left the social media site. To improve transparency, Facebook released a tool called “Off-Facebook” activity earlier this year. Using this tool you can see the information that third party websites and apps share with Facebook. Examples of interactions which is shared with Facebook include: opening an app, content you’ve viewed or items you’ve added to a shopping cart. The collated information is then used by the social media company for targeted advertisement.
How Facebook receives your activity
By using Facebook’s Business Tools (Facebook Pixel, Facebook SDK and Facebook Login) businesses and organisations can share your activity with the social media platform. For example, a site using Facebook’s SDK for its like button can easily share your activities with even if you are not logged into your Facebook account.
If you are worried about the information that is being collected and shared, the good news is that “Off-Facebook Activity” allows you to do three things:
- See what websites and apps are sending your data to Facebook
- Delete past off-Facebook activity
- Switch off or manage future Off-Facebook activity tracking
Take control of the information you share
Below is a step by step guide on how you can stop this information tracking and sharing:
1. See what websites and apps are sending your data to Facebook
To know what companies and websites have been sending your data to Facebook, log in to your account then go to:
Settings > Your Facebook Information > Off-Facebook activity > Manage your off-Facebook activity.
This will give you a summary of all the websites that share your information and the activities Facebook receives. As previously mentioned, examples of this include: Opening an app, Logging into an app with Facebook, the content you viewed or searched for, adding an item to a shopping cart, purchases and donations.
Whilst the information you will see is extensive, be aware that it doesn’t include everything.
According to Facebook,
We receive more details and activity than what appears in your off-Facebook activity. For technical and accuracy reasons, we don’t show all the activity we’ve received. This includes things like the information we’ve received when you’re not logged into Facebook, or when we can’t confirm that you’ve previously used Facebook on that device.
We strongly encourage you to try out this first step. You’ll be surprised at the number of companies that are sharing your activity with Facebook unbeknownst to you.
2. Delete your Off-Facebook activity
To delete your Off-Facebook activity, click the clear history button above the page where you’ve viewed the summary. Be aware that this step will log you out of all the accounts you’ve linked with Facebook.
(Previous instructions, Go to Settings > Your Facebook Information > Off-Facebook activity > Manage your off-Facebook activity)
3. Manage or switch off Facebook activity for all apps and websites
To stop future collection of information, simply click on Manage Future Off Facebook activity. You can either switch it off completely or select individual sites you want to prevent from sharing your activities.
(Summary of steps, Go to Settings > Your Facebook > Information > Off-Facebook activity > More options > Manage Future Activity > turn off Future off-Facebook Activity)
A final recommendation
One of the main ways Facebook is able to track your offline activity is when you log into a third website or app using your Facebook account. Avoid registering for accounts through your Facebook account, use your email address instead.
An impending lawsuit
Whilst the Off-Facebook activity is a good step towards giving people more control over how their information is shared, Facebook unfortunately doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to balancing the privacy of their users and the services they offer. The social media company was fined £500,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office over its involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. An investigation into the political consulting firm revealed they harvested the personal data of 87 million Facebook users for political advertising without consent. A US court recently approved a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over the scandal.
This month, the US Circuit Court of Appeals in California recently ruled that a class-action lawsuit could proceed against Facebook for its “tracking” practices when users are not on the website. The claims will be pursued under federal and California privacy and wiretapping laws.
Kazient Privacy Experts offer bespoke Data Protection, Privacy and GDPR compliance solutions in a language you understand to UK and international organisations, and has received positive media coverage across Europe. Kazient’s GDPR consultants are fully certified to be your outsourced Data Protection Officer or EU Representative. Get in touch to find out how we can help your business by visiting our website www.kazient.co.uk or calling us on 0330 022 9009.