Users can now opt out of giving Facebook ‘off-Facebook’ data

The social giant is able to track outside data, from shopping to video streaming. Now, users are being handed a little more control.

Facebook has announced a new change to its data policies and practices.

Now, with the “Off-Facebook Activity” tool, users can have more control over what data is shared between other, non-Facebook apps and websites and the social giant.

Erin Egan, the company’s chief privacy officer, and David Baser, director of product management, wrote in a blog post that this is “another way to give people more control and privacy over Facebook.”

So how does it work?

Facebook’s default setting is to track users’ activity across apps and websites not on Facebook, such as shopping websites, blogs and DIY sites or video streaming. It’s part of what fuels Facebook’s ad targeting and the data business that has brought it billions in revenue over the years.

Now, this new tool will allow users to see a summary of the apps and websites that have fed this data to Facebook – and give them the option to clear the info from their account. A Help Center post clarified that the information will be disconnected within 48 hours. Users who disconnect will still have their information collected, but it will be anonymized and aggregated for audience data, but will cease to contribute to their personalized ads.

It’s part of a growing number of privacy and transparency initiatives introduced by Facebook, such as its “why am I seeing this ad” or “why am I seeing this post” features and updates to its Ads Library. The company has been under more intense scrutiny since the 2018 Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal, although movements such as the calls to “#DeleteFacebook” have not resulted in significant loss of users or revenue.

The tool, which is accessible through the desktop and mobile user interface, will become available in Canada within the next few months. It is first being rolled out to several other countries including Ireland, South Korea and Spain.

In the blog post, both Egan and Baser said they expected it to have “some impact” on Facebook’s business.