Have you ever seen an ad on your Facebook feed with something you were just looking up on Amazon, Google, or even just talking about it? Must be some weird coincidence, right? Maybe not.
As of January 28, 2020, in compliance with California’s Consumer Privacy Act effective January 1, 2020, Facebook has made available a setting titled “Off-Facebook Activity” that tells you what data Facebook is collecting on you and your device and allows you to turn it off. Off-Facebook Activity is just that, monitoring your activity on your device even when you are not on Facebook. This includes, but is not limited to, the device you use, websites you visit, apps you use, purchases you make, contacts in your phone, your call logs, GPS location, your camera, and much more. You expect them to know everything you put on your profile, but many haven’t thought of them seeing more than that.
There are a few other things Facebook has added to help you monitor your privacy, such as their “Privacy Checkup”, which tells you four things you can check to make sure you are protecting your privacy and leads you to the settings for you to make changes if needed.
“Who can see what I share”, “How to keep your account secure”, “How people can find you on Facebook”, and “Your data settings on Facebook”. As well as “Learn more with Privacy Basics”, which will help guide you through some good practices.
“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.” -Facebook
These are all meant to make it easy for you as the user to understand, however, it can be very vague and difficult to understand. So here are instructions on how to help monitor and manage your information using Off-Facebook Activity.
For a Mobile Device:
When you open Facebook, click the icon in the bottom left corner. Scroll down to Settings & Privacy, then open settings. Scroll down to “Off-Facebook Activity”, the “Manage Your Off-Facebook Activity”. It will then ask for your password before you continue. Once in you will see the activity Facebook has been monitoring when you are just on your phone or device. You can click “Clear History” to delete current data. Then click the three-dot icon in the top right corner and select “Manage Future Activity”, and then select manager future activity again at the bottom of the screen. Once on that page you can select to deactivate “Future Off-Facebook Activity”.
For a Desktop:
When you Login to Facebook, in the top right corner, click the down arrow and then settings. Once in settings click on “Your Facebook Information” on the left-hand side. You will see a few options to access and download your information. Click on “Off-Facebook Activity” and in the top right corner, select “Manage Your Off-Facebook Activity” and it will then ask for your password to continue. You will then see your activity from your devices and it will give you the option to clear your current history, then click “Manage Future Activity” and then again on the pop-up window. It will then give you the option to deactivate “Future Off-Facebook Activity”.
If you felt like that was complicated, it is. You have the option to opt out of this activity monitoring, but it is difficult to get to that point and many don’t even realize it’s happening. It’s easy to be outraged saying, “They have no right to collect my information without my consent” when most of us have never even glanced at the Terms of Service before agreeing to it. Be aware of your rights and what your giving away when you hit, “I Agree” when creating a profile on anything.
Facebook’s current Terms of Service
Facebook’s current Data Policy
by Rebecca Perry Horsley