Facebook collects a lot of data about its users – we all know that. Even though it makes us uncomfortable, we made our peace with this. But did you know, Facebook also collects your data even when you are not using Facebook? Most websites and apps use Facebook’s tracker to send users data back to Facebook for various reasons. Facebook, then uses those data to deliver better ads tailored especially for you. I knew it already that Facebook tracks users off Facebook, especially on those sites that use different Facebook products to improve experiences. But I had no idea to how extent Facebook tracks users.
To promote transparency, Facebook had announced it would launch a tool for users to control which site share data with Facebook. Facebook finally launched this tool and calling it the ‘Off-Facebook Activity‘ tool. This tool shows a summary of how much data Facebook has received from 3rd-party apps and sites. You can access the tool directly from HERE, or you can manually find it under Settings > Your Facebook information > Off-Facebook Activity. Before you check the tool, prepare yourself to be blown away. It is insane to see how much Facebook knows about you and tracks your activity everywhere, even when you are not using Facebook.
What Kind of Data Facebook Collects From Third-Party Sites?
According to the same tool, Facebook receives activity data from business and third-party sites to allow them to analyze how their websites or apps are performing.
Facebook also shared some example activities that Facebook may receive from other sites and apps. Those activities include:
- Opened an app
- Logged in to app with Facebook
- Visited a website
- Searched for an item
- Added an item to a wishlist
- Added an item to a basket
- Made a purchase
- Made a donation
Depending on the sites, Facebook may receive different kinds of data and custom data. Facebook says that they prohibit “businesses and organisations from sharing sensitive information with us, including health and financial data.“
What Does Facebook Do With All These Activity Data?
According to Facebook, it uses those data to shows things you might be interested in, such as events. It also uses those data to show relevant ads about a new product or service. It says it doesn’t sell your data to anyone neither does it share your identity with the website that shared your activity data to Facebook.
When you visit the Off-Facebook activity tool page, you will see a list of all the apps and sites that shared data about you with Facebook. Clicking on each site or app will reveal slightly more about the kind of data is shared with Facebook. There is also an option to “turn-off future activity” from that particular app or website.
Instead of individually turning off future activity collection, you can use the “Manage Future Activity” option on the off-Facebook activity toll page and turn of activity tracker for all apps and websites.
Remember that turning off future activity won’t stop Facebook from collecting data. It will just disconnect the data from your account. That means, you may still see ads based on your activity, but it won’t as specific as it used to be.
It feels like there is no escape from Facebook and its tracker. But at least it is now giving more control about how and when it collects data. I am not a big fan of Facebook knowing all these about me, but I am happy that Facebook is doing something to give us some control over our data. What do you think of this new feature introduced by Facebook? Let’s discuss this in the comment section.