Facebook unveils its data privacy controls for users worldwide

Ruth C. | February 12, 2020

In the wake of data breaches and scandals, Facebook is determined to give people privacy controls. “The future is private,” Mark Zuckerberg once told the crowd. With this, the CEO finally launched a new tool that lets you keep tabs on how Facebook is tracking your activity. This moment is vital for people spending their precious time on the world’s largest social network.

From “Clear History” to “Off-Facebook Activity”

The chief executive chose Global Data Privacy Day to announce the exciting news. In its official blog post, Facebook introduced the privacy tool called the “Off-Facebook Activity.” Initially, the feature was declared in a more user-friendly name - “Clear History.” But Facebook believed that it could confuse people who may think that the tool has something to do with wiping out their published data. Starting from May 2018, Ireland, Spain, and South Korea had the ability to trial the feature. Since then, the social platform has had slow rollouts around the world. Now, the feature is achievable to the 2.4 billion people who use Facebook every month.

Why you need the Off-Facebook Activity feature

How come that ad for trendy boots appeared on your Facebook wall after you’ve been searching Google for the very same thing? The truth is, websites often hand over your browsing data to Facebook for tailored, personalized advertising. Quite reasonably, people find this invasive, which is why Facebook needed to take appropriate actions.

The long-awaited tool allows you to control and delete data that other apps and websites share with Facebook. Essentially, it lets you manage how Facebook tracks you across the internet. “Other businesses send us information about your activity on their sites, and we use that information to show you ads that are relevant to you. Now you can see a summary of that information and clear it from your account if you want to.”, said Zuckerberg in the official launch post.

Along with deleting your data and history, the tool allows you to turn off future tracking. This ability ensures that hiding your actions online shouldn’t be a continuous task to do. You can also choose between disconnecting all the activity at once, or discontinuing the tracking only on some specific applications or websites.

A caveat to be aware of

Undeniably, the arrival of a new Facebook privacy feature gives more control of your data. However, the tool comes with a significant loophole to beware of, according to Wired. Even if you stop allowing Facebook to collect your data, it will continue to do so. This data will remain associated with your personal account for two more days.

In its Help Center article, Facebook confirms such procedure: “Your future Off-Facebook Activity will be disconnected within 48 hours from when it’s received. During this time, it may be used for measurement purposes and to make improvements to our ads systems.”

Luckily, the Off-Facebook Activity feature will separate the collected data from your account in an aggregated form. Facebook claims that such a procedure is necessary for technical reasons rather than only for business reasons.

How to access the Off-Facebook Activity feature

You can find the tool by referring to Settings in your Facebook app. On the “Your Facebook information” tab, you should locate the “Off-Facebook Activity.” A revealing summary will show the apps and websites that have shared your activity. To control those, pick the options “Manage your off-Facebook activity” and “Clear history.”

Further steps to take to secure your data

It’s clear that the new feature is far from perfect, but it’s definitely worth using. Even more so, taking extra precautions while browsing Facebook would be a smart move. A VPN for Facebook encrypts your online data and prevents any tracking that marketers or any 3rd parties are willing to attain. You can take control of your digital privacy in all internet areas - grab Atlas VPN here:

Ruth C.

Ruth C.

Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. Interested in cybercrime, online security, and privacy-related topics.



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