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Image / Editorial

Facebook rolls out new privacy tool to give you control over your data


by Grace McGettigan
21st Aug 2019

Facebook - Off-Facebook Activity

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Facebook - Off-Facebook Activity

Facebook has launched a new tool called ‘Off-Facebook Activity’ for Irish users; enabling us to control what data the social network has access to


Have you ever seen ads on Facebook for something you’ve recently Googled or browsed for online? Perhaps a dress from Zara, a nearby dog groomer or a remedy for hayfever? As of today, you’ll have control over that.

A new tool called ‘Off-Facebook Activity’ allows you to block the social network from gathering information about you (including your recent searches) from external websites and apps.

“The best person to be in control of data is you,” Facebook said. “Control is important to you, especially when it comes to your data. Which is why you’re seeing changes in how you view and manage your information on Facebook.”

How it works

Previously, certain businesses (such as online retailers) could track the activity of Facebook users on their sites. This was done through a special type of web coding called a Facebook pixel.

“Much of what you do online generates data,” the social network explains, “such as when you’re searching for holiday destinations or buying a backpack. Occasionally, businesses share that data with Facebook.

“One way that data can be used is to help businesses find the right audience to show ads for things you might like – such as a deal on backpacks. These ads are what make most of the Internet available free of charge, including Facebook”.

However, recent concern about data breaches has led to the development of a new tool called ‘Off-Facebook Activity’. The tool lets you see a summary of the apps and websites sending Facebook information about your activity; and what’s more, you have the option to disconnect future ‘off-Facebook activity’ from your account.

The feature is now available to Facebook users in Ireland, Spain and South Korea; with the function expected to be rolled out to users worldwide soon.

“We do think this could have an impact on our revenue,” said Stephanie Max, product manager at Facebook. However, she added that giving people “transparency and control” is important.

We agree.

Photo: Pexels


Read more: Instagram: Why hiding ‘likes’ is a powerful move

Read more: ‘We can do more’: Instagram rolls out new anti-bullying features

Read more: Social media isn’t all negative – it can help and heal too

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