Find Out How Facebook Tracks You Even When You're Not Using It

We all know Facebook tracks what you do while using its apps and website, but the social media monolith also collects data from third-party apps, services, and websites, even when you’re not using Facebook. It’s one of the ways Facebook’s targeted ads become eerily specific and seem to know what you’ve been looking up on other websites.

However, Facebook is now letting users see—and delete—the data that it tracks from non-Facebook sources thanks to a new “Off-Facebook Activity” menu.

I’ve talked about Facebook’s off-site data tracking in previous posts, and most people are probably aware that logging in to a website or syncing an app to your Facebook account means the company gets access to certain data. This is the first time users have been able to easily view and manage tracked third-party data, and it’s something everyone should check out.

How to find and manage your off-Facebook data

Screenshot: Facebook

You can find the new Off-Facebook Activity tab under Settings > Your Facebook Data > Off-Facebook Activity. The tab exists in the same place for both mobile and desktop users.

The Off-Facebook Activity menu lists which connected apps and websites are sending data to Facebook and includes several options for managing said data:

  • To stop a specific app from tracking you in the future, tap or click it in the list then scroll down and select “Turn off future activity.” You can also use the “Give feedback about this activity” link to report any concerns you may have about an app’s activity tracking.

  • “Download your information” lets you save an offline report of all previously tracked data up to now.

There are also options to clear all previously tracked data and stop all future activity tracking from all apps, if you’d rather erase everything:

Screenshot: Brendan Hesse
  • “Clear history” removes all previously saved data from third-party apps and websites.

  • “Manage future activity” lets you quickly make sweeping changes to how all apps—even those you may sync in the future—share your data.

Keep in mind, however, that even these scorched-earth tactics won’t remove ads from Facebook or stop it from tracking you elsewhere. While there are ways to manage your ad data to make them more relevant (or less personalised), if you really want an ad-free experience you’ll need the help of third-party tools.


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