Facebook have taken heed of the calls for more focus on safeguarding user privacy. At the moment, most users are operating unaware of what Facebook can and can’t do with their data and for how long.
No doubt part of the reason for this has been the flagging growth numbers for the social platform. More and more users are waking up to the realities of what the terms of service for all these sites mean for their user experience.
The newest change by Facebook – which has already rolled out in Spain, South Korea and Ireland – will give you control of the data that other sites are collecting about you and sharing with Facebook.
Companies use tracking tools like Facebook Pixel and Facebook Login to share data they have collected about you with Facebook. This is how Facebook ends up showing you those very specific ads from websites you visited recently.
How to get Facebook to stop tracking your activity
If you appreciate the way Facebook is currently serving you ads, then this change is not for you.
However, if you’re tired of seeing ads for the pair of shoes already bought for 30 days after you purchased them, then this may bring some joy to your soul.
In the mobile app, you can deactivate “Off-Facebook Activity”. This will stop any data being passed from sites that are tracking your activities to Facebook.
If deactivating the “Off-Facebook Activity” seems like too big a betrayal of your friends at Facebook, you can opt to clear your history instead. The feature might not be available to everyone just yet, so be patient.
That apparently means that Facebook will be able to use the data to learn more about you as an anonymous member of the Facebook base, but won’t target individual advertising based on them explicitly.
Redefining how ads target you
I’m assuming this means your history will be able to figure out you may like hiking and send you ads that someone who loves hiking might like; rather than advertisements for the exact hiking boots you looked at while trying to find a gift for your colleague.
The new change will allow users a better idea of what’s happening under the hood when Facebook places an advertisement in front of them, which is a welcome change and a step in the right direction.
All these changes will be effective going forward so there won’t be an option to purge all the data that’s already been collected for your account.
But that may change before the new settings roll out to comply with legislation in Europe and other countries that have taken a hard line on the protection of personal information.