Ever Google something once and then all of a sudden get ads about that thing? The internet’s targeted ads can be quite annoying, something which Facebook is guilty of as it uses the various history of things you view on the social media network to target certain ads at you. It can all feel like a massive invasion of privacy, even though you did actually give them permission to do so in the terms and conditions.
Still, Facebook wants to put more power in users hands and in a new blog post, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook’s Clear History tool is now available in all countries. The tool is part of a new section in your settings called “Off-Facebook activity,” and it lets users see which third-parties have shared user interactions with the social network — even when they’re not using Facebook directly.
Off-Facebook activity essentially shines a light on the information that businesses and websites share with Facebook based on your interactions with those sites or apps. Something which may prove eye-opening for many. The Clear History tool though can be helpful if you’re constantly getting ads for something you were just looking at online or being served suggestions for things Facebook thinks you might be interested in. Besides clearing your history, the new section also includes options to view your information by category, download the information, and select how off-Facebook activity can be managed in the future. Putting some control of Facebook’s targeted ads in your control, as Zuckerberg himself states:
Off-Facebook Activity marks a new level of transparency and control. We’ve been working on this for a while because we had to rebuild some of our systems to make this possible.
Considering yesterday was officially Data Privacy Day, it is great to see Facebook attempt to honour their agreement to clean up their act. While most people still no doubt refuse to trust the company and their dodgy business practices, tools like this are welcome. And people can, you know, actually read the terms and conditions when they use social media sites in future.
Last Updated: January 29, 2020