How to Stop Facebook From Spying on Your Internet Activity

The Off-Facebook Activity tool lets you see which websites are sending information about your web activity to the social network. Here's how to use it, ...
How to Stop Facebook From Spying on Your Internet Activity

The Off-Facebook Activity tool lets you see which websites are sending information about your web activity to the social network. Here's how to use it, as well as Facebook's updated Privacy Checkup tool.

Facebook has long offered a Privacy Checkup tool through which you can review and customize key settings and features, but a recent update gives you control over more options. Meanwhile, to manage what the social network knows about what you do online when you leave Facebook, the company rolled out an . Here's how to use both features.

Facebook not onlyhas access to your activity when you use the social network but also when youvisit certain third-party websites. To help you manage that information, the new Off-Facebook Activity tool lets you review and delete the data collected about you when you’re using otherwebsites or stop off-Facebook activity from beingsaved with your account entirely. You can also download the data to analyze it offline.

Off-Facebookactivity includes any information that websites, apps, and organizations sharewith Facebook about your actions with them. This may be something as simple asvisiting a specific website or app, or a more involved task such as searchingfor an item or purchasing a product. Facebook uses this information to serve you targeted ads.

By seeing your activity and choices on supported websites, Facebook can show you coupons and promotions you might find useful. For example, you might buy a pair of shoes from an online clothing store. Thatstore shares your activity and purchase with Facebook, which saves it to youraccount. Facebook then serves you an ad with a 10 percent off coupon on your nextpurchase from that store.

If you're uncomfortable withthis type of tracking, especially since it occurs when you’re not usingFacebook, you can use the Off-Facebook Activity tool to manage thisinformation. Access this feature by clicking the down arrow in the top right and selecting Settings. At the Settings screen, select the setting for Your FacebookInformation and then click the option for Off-Facebook Activity.

Facebookdisplays the names of some sites that have shared your activity with thecompany and informs you how the company gains access to this kind of information. Get more details about your overall off-Facebook activity by clicking the "Learn More" link up top. Or click the icon for any site at the top to view your off-Facebook activity, then enter your password. 

The next page shows all the sites that have provided information on your activity to Facebook. Click a site to view specific details about that site.

Up top, you'll see "How Did Facebook Get This Activity?" The first drop-down menu will share how the site sent the data to Facebook; most of my links were sent via "Facebook's business tools," which includes , the Facebook SDK, and Facebook Login.

If you wish to flag a site as inappropriate content or a misuse of your information, scroll to the bottom of the Activity Details screen and click the "Give feedback about this activity" link. Select a reason for the feedback and click Send.

If you nolonger want this site to share your activity with Facebook, click the "Turn offfuture activity" link. A confirmation message explains what will happen if youturn off this activity. If you wish to proceed, click the Turn off button. 

A message tells you that future activity from this site has been turned off, but keep in mind that your past activity has not been disconnected.

You can manage both past and future activity from the Off-Facebook Activity screen by clicking Manage Future Activity. Read the information on how off-Facebook activity is used, then click Manage Future Activity to take control.

At the nextpage, you can view the activity you’ve already turned off. You can also turnoff all future activity by toggling the switch next to "FutureOff-Facebook Activity" to off.

You can alsoremove your entire off-Facebook activity history. Click the Clear History button at the top, then hit ClearHistory.

To download your Off-Facebook activity, return to the Off-Facebook Activity page, and click "Download Your Information" on the right.

By default,the Download Your Information page selects all your Facebook data for download.At this point, there is no specific setting just to download your off-Facebookactivity information. But certain categories, such Ads and Businesses, do includeoff-Facebook activity. You may want to select just Ads and Businesses as afirst step to see what information it provides, or keep all categories selectedto view all your Facebook data. After you’ve chosen the categories, click the CreateFile button at the top.

The page tells you that a copy of your information is being created. You also receive a notification by email. After the file is compiled and ready for download, you’ll receive another notification email. At the Download Your Informationpage, click the Available Copies tab, then click theDownload button to save the information as a zip file. Unzip the file and open it to review the information. From the extracted files, open the index.html file. From there you can access and view whatever categories of information you downloaded.

To run thelatest version of Facebook’s Privacy Checkup tool, click the question mark iconin the upper right and select Privacy Checkup. At the PrivacyCheckup window, click the first topic for "Who can see what you share."

ClickContinue. At the Profile Information window, review the settings for your phonenumber, email addresses, and birthday. Click the button next to each settingand choose whether to change it to Public, Friends, Only Me, or a specificFacebook list. In general, you’ll want to set each of these to Friends, Only Me,or a specific list. When done, click Next.

At the Postswindow, set the option for who should see future posts. You’ll likely want toset this to Friends. The changes past posts that wereseen by the public or friends of friends to only friends. To do this, click theLimit button and click OK. Then click Next.

At the Blockscreen, you can block a specific person from seeing things you post, startingconversations with you, or trying to add you as a friend. To do this, click thebutton to "Add to Blocked list" and type the name of the person or account you wishto block. From the list of suggestions, click the Block button for the correctperson. Click Next.

Click thebutton to Review Another Topic. Then select the "How to keep youraccount secure" topic. Click Continue. At the window for Is Your Password Private,click the button to Change Password if you wish to change it to something moresecure or you’re concerned that your password was compromised. Click Next.

At the windowfor Turn On Alerts, turn on the switch for any alerts you wish to receive ifyou or someone else signs into your Facebook account from a new or different location.Click Next.

Click thebutton to Review Another Topic. Then select the "How people can findyou on Facebook" topic. Click Continue. At the window for Friend Requests, click thebutton if you wish to change who can send you friend requests. Click Next.

At the PhoneNumber and Email window, decide who can look you up on Facebook by your phonenumber and email address. Click Next.

Click thebutton to Review Another Topic. Then select the "Your data settings onFacebook" topic. Click Continue. At the window for Apps and Websites, you can removeapps you no longer need or use to prevent the developer from further accessingcertain Facebook data about you, such as a list of your friends. For any suchapps, click the Remove button. At the confirmation window, click the Removebutton. Click Next and you're done. is a leading authority on technology, delivering Labs-based, independent reviews of the latest products and services. Our expert industry analysis and practical solutions help you make better buying decisions and get more from technology.

© 1996-2020 Ziff Davis, LLC. PCMag Digital Group

PCMag, and PC Magazine are among the federally registered trademarks of Ziff Davis, LLC and may not be used by third parties without explicit permission. The display of third-party trademarks and trade names on this site does not necessarily indicate any affiliation or the endorsement of PCMag. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product or service, we may be paid a fee by that merchant.


Post a Comment