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Off-Facebook Activity: How to control the private data apps and sites share with Facebook

Facebook finally introduced a tool that allows you to control and limit the data that third-party apps and websites share with the social media giant — a feature that should help improve Facebook’s much-criticized stance on privacy.

While not quite the “Clear History” tool that CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised in 2018, the new Off-Facebook Activity tool should help you disable some of the ways that Facebook and advertisers track your activity around the web.

“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,” Facebook wrote on Tuesday. “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.”

While the Off-Facebook Activity manager has so far only launched in Ireland, South Korea, and Spain, the feature should come to users around the world within a few months. Here are more details about the feature and how to use it.

What is Off-Facebook Activity?

Facebook’s partners share a huge amount of data with the social media giant, giving it information on the sites you browse, products you consider, and more. For example, if a site sees that you’ve been looking at a specific phone, it can share that information with Facebook – which is why you might start to see ads for that phone when you browse Facebook and even Instagram.

Some of this information comes via Facebook Pixel, which tracks your activity around the web, as well as from sites you’ve used Facebook Login to log in to.

How does the Off-Facebook Activity Manager work?

Using the tool, you’ll be able to see which other apps and websites have shared your data with Facebook and choose to disconnect the data from your account. Disconnecting is not the same as deleting, however – Facebook will still get data about you from partners, it just won’t be connected to your specific user account.

“If you clear your off-Facebook activity, we’ll remove your identifying information from the data that apps and websites choose to send us,” Facebook wrote. “We won’t know which websites you visited or what you did there, and we won’t use any of the data you disconnect to target ads to you on Facebook, Instagram, or Messenger.”

How do I use the Off-Facebook Activity Manager on desktop?

Click the options arrow in the top-right corner of Facebook, then click Settings. From there, click Your Facebook Information on the left and you’ll see Off-Facebook Activity. Click it, and then click Manage Your Off-Facebook Activity to see and control which individual apps and sites are sharing information with Facebook, or Clear History to disconnect your history from your account.

How do I use the Off-Facebook Activity Manager on the mobile app?

Click on the options menu (three lines) in the top-right corner of the app. From there, scroll down to click Settings and Privacy and then Settings. Scroll down to Your Facebook Information and click Off-Facebook Activity. Click Manage Your Off-Facebook Activity to see and control which individual apps and sites are sharing information with Facebook, or Clear History to disconnect your history from your account.

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Mathew Katz
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Mathew is a news editor at Digital Trends, specializing in covering all kinds of tech news — from video games to policy. He…
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