SAN ANTONIO – Facebook tracks us even when we’re not on Facebook.
Through relationships with hundreds of thousands of apps, websites and other services, the company receives a constant stream of information about what most of us do online and even where we go in the real world.
If all of that sounds like oversharing, you may be able to limit what Facebook does with the information it collects.
Earlier this year, Facebook introduced what it calls Off-Facebook Activity settings.
“What Facebook ultimately decided to do was to give you a menu to see the last six months of updates the company got from third parties,” said Consumer Reports Tech Editor Thomas Germain. “You can also use a tool called Clear History. That doesn’t actually delete your information, but it disconnects it from your account.”
While you may not be able to stop Facebook from collecting your Off-Facebook data in the first place, you can limit what it does with any new data going forward.
“There’s another setting called Manage Future Activity,” Germain said. “It essentially keeps your history cleared by default. Other companies will keep sending Facebook information, but they won’t be able to use it for targeted advertising and it won’t keep it tied to your account.”
But turning off that setting will disable the Facebook Login tool, which lets you sign in to some apps and websites. So, you may be trading privacy for convenience.
To find and manage these settings:
On a computer: Click the down arrow in the top right of the Facebook home page > Settings & Privacy > Privacy Shortcuts > View or clear your Off-Facebook activity > Manage Your Off-Facebook Activity. (The steps are similar on a phone browser and in the app. Tap the icon with the three stacked lines in the top right, and find Privacy Shortcuts under Settings.)
From there, you can hit the Clear History button. To prevent the data from being used for targeted ads in the future, tap Manage Future Activity on the right-hand side, hit the Manage Future Activity button on the next screen, and then switch off the toggle. (To get here using the app, tap the three buttons in the top right of the Off-Facebook Activity screen.)
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