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Facebook’s new tool tells you what it knows about you

The new ‘Off Facebook Activity’ tool gives a chance to its two million users to understand the summary of their business activity that apps and websites share about them with Facebook

Facebook recently launched a new feature that will help you understand how much the social media giant knows about you and tracks you even when you’re not using the platform.

Facebook promised the tool in August 2018, in the midst of the ‘Cambridge Analytica Scandal’ where many apps and websites were accused of using and sharing personal data of over 50 million people.

According to Facebook’s blog about the tool, it receives information from businesses and organisations that use the ‘business tool’ for sharing your activity. Not only is the information about you shared by apps and websites that you have logged in with Facebook, but also by data service providers and by marketing agencies. The new feature reveals Facebook collects data from third-party websites.

This is the reason you see personalised ads on Facebook and its sister apps like Instagram and Messenger. “Businesses and organisations may use third-party data service providers or marketing agencies to analyse and understand their customers' interactions on their apps and websites. These providers or agencies may then use our business tools to send your activity to us, on behalf of the business or organisation,” says the blog published by Facebook.

When you use the new feature it will show you the summary of your activity and also the interactions you’ve done on an app or a website.  However, the new feature doesn’t show all your activities that they have received. “For technical and accuracy reasons, we don’t show all the activity we’ve received. This includes things like information we’ve received when you’re not logged into Facebook, or when we can’t confirm that you’ve previously used Facebook on that device. We also don’t show details like the item you’ve added to your shopping cart,” says the tool.

According to Facebook, it filters the information that comes to them and discourages brands to share sensitive information with them. “We prohibit businesses or organisations to share sensitive information with us, such as health and financial information, your date of birth and passwords. If we determine that a business or an organisation is violating our terms, we will take action against that business or organisation,” the blog says. The tracking feature reveals the information that Facebook has collected about your activity of over 80 days.

With the introduction of the new tool, you can now control the information that Facebook receives by using the new tool and mange how Facebook keeps a track of you by disconnecting the permissions for specific websites and apps at your end.  The Off Facebook tool can be accessed by going to the ‘settings’ and then selecting ‘Your Facebook information.’ Under this section you have to select the ‘Off Facebook activity’ tool, the page will now show you the apps and websites that have shared your information with Facebook. You can now control what information is given to Facebook by these apps and websites. According to Facebook, while the number of ads you see you won’t change but they will definitely be less personalised. The social media giant has termed the new tool is ‘a new level of transparency and control’.


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