Facebook To Give Users Tracking Data Opt-Out

Facebook is to give its users a new tool to give them the ability to clear their browsing history that is compiled by third party apps and websites, and which is sent to Facebook.

Users will not get the ability to delete this “off-Facebook activity”, but will instead disconnect data from an individual user’s account.

This privacy tool comes in the wake of numerous privacy breaches at Facebook in recent years, as evidenced by the Cambridge Analytica scandal from last year. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has this year promised to give Facebook a more privacy focused future in the years ahead.

Off-Facebook activity

Facebook revealed the new tool in a blog posting that explained how there is now a feature in settings called Off-Facebook Activity.

This shows all the apps and websites that send information about a user to Facebook, and this information is then used to target ads more effectively on the social platform.

“Many apps and websites are free because they’re supported by online advertising,” wrote Erin Egan, chief privacy officer at the social network. “And to reach people who are more likely to care about what they are selling, businesses often share data about people’s interactions on their websites with ad platforms and other services.”

“To help shed more light on these practices that are common yet not always well understood, today we’re introducing a new way to view and control your off-Facebook activity,” said Egan. “Off-Facebook Activity lets you see a summary of the apps and websites that send us information about your activity, and clear this information from your account if you want to. This is another way to give people more transparency and control on Facebook…”

The Off-Facebook Activity tool is available to people in Ireland, South Korea and Spain, and it will be be continued to rolled out everywhere over the coming months.

But users shouldn’t think this is a total “clear history” tool.

Facebook said that if the user clears off their off-Facebook activity, it would remove the user’s identifying information from the data that apps and websites choose to send it.

But it won’t delete the data altogether.

Last September Mozilla promised to stiffen the privacy controls of its Firefox web browser, and will in future block advertising trackers (ad trackers) by default.

Quiz: Think you know all about Facebook?

Tom Jowitt @TJowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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