Facebook has introduced a tool that lets you see which third-party websites and apps are sending it your browsing history, and stop them doing so in future.
The feature, which is currently available in Ireland, Spain and South Korea, is found in the mobile app’s settings under the heading ‘Off-Facebook Activity’. It allows you to see which companies have shared data about your browsing habits using tracking tools like The Facebook Pixel and Facebook Login.
If you’ve ever spent some time shopping online, then visited Facebook and been showered with ads for the items you were looking at, these are the tools responsible.
You can deactivate ‘Off-Facebook Activity’, preventing this tracking happening in future. However, as The Guardian reports, it’s not possible to delete the data that these third parties have already sent to Facebook.
There is an option labelled ‘Clear history’, but this will only disconnect the connected data from your account. This means Facebook can’t use your browsing data to send you individually targeted ads, but can still use it to get a broader picture of users’ interests.
Where have you been?
This is the first time you’ve been able to see exactly which companies have been supplying Facebook with information on your browsing habits, and the transparency is welcome, but it’s a pity you can’t actually purge the data that has already been gathered.
With this in mind, the fact that Facebook has labelled the option ‘Clear data’ is rather misleading. Hopefully it will replace it with something more accurate like ‘Anonymize data’ before the feature rolls out globally in the coming months.