Facebook, a tech conglomerate that started as a social-networking website but later turned into its present avatar of a news aggregator, has been through various phases. And it would not be incorrect to say that, during its transition, the company has evolved radically — both in a positive and a negative way.

faccebook snooping
IMAGE: Unsplash (Glen Carrie)

You see, in contrast with the olden days, when Facebook was more like an online platform to connect with people, it has slowly evolved into what is today known as a social media website, which possesses the power to alter society’s viewpoint across various subject matters. And the ill effect, you ask? Well, an integral part of what Facebook is capable of achieving today is data. As a result of this, any entity that controls vast amounts of data about its users or customers can transform the rational climate of a nation and influence the lives of the masses.

Off-Facebook activity

In case you are unaware, Facebook employs several tactics to harvest the data of large number of users and mine it to use to its advantage. For this, the company relies mainly on your topics and interests on its platforms to build your profile. Additionally, it also has toolkits that it offers to online businesses and organizations to receive user data.

understanding off-facebook activity
IMAGE: Facebook

Facebook says it does this to serve you with relevant ads and help businesses better target their audiences. While this might seem normal, the way it is collecting data — behind its user’s back, without them knowing — is what raises questions on the company’s ethics and morality. The reason we say this is because, by default, all of Facebook’s tracking tools work in tandem to collect every aspect of your online activity. And even though the company is now giving its users a way to opt-out of some tracking, the settings to do it are buried deep underneath several menus, which can fend off some users.

A few of the data harvesting tools (aka Business Tools) disclosed by Facebook in the public domain include Facebook Pixel and Facebook Login. Both these tools provide an activity summary from various businesses and organizations using them back to Facebook.

Facebook calls this Off-Facebook activity. And just as the name suggests, the tool facilitates Facebook with data harvesting by curating data about users across various online apps and services — even when they are not on Facebook.

How to prevent Facebook from tracking you on the internet?

Generally speaking, if you are on Facebook or any other app or website, it is practically not possible to completely hold-off such platforms from tracking and collecting information about you. But that said, there are, of course, ways to minimize the data footprint that you leave out on the internet.

In the case of Facebook, the company has its Off-Facebook activity tool, which gives its users an insight into some of its tracking habits. Additionally, this tool also helps them limit their off-Facebook activity to prevent further tracking.

I. Disable Off-Facebook activity using Website

If you prefer accessing Facebook on a computer, you can disable Off-Facebook Activity on your account with the following steps.

1. Visit Facebook in a web browser and log-in to your account.

2. Click on the dropdown button on the top right, hit Settings & privacy, and select Settings.

3. From the right-hand column, click on Your Facebook information and hit View next to Off-Facebook activity to view your tracked activities until now.

disable off-facebook activity (website)

4. Click on Manage your Off-Facebook activity from the sidebar. When prompted, enter your password again.

5. Again, click Manage Future Activity and toggle the button next to Future Off-Facebook Activity to the off state.

disable off-facebook activity (website)

By following the above steps, you can completely cut-off Facebook from accessing your information from all apps and websites. However, if you want to only restrict some apps from sharing your data with Facebook, you can do that as well by turning off access for every app individually.

Additionally, you can even delete and disconnect Off-Facebook activity history from your account to prevent it from being used moving forward. For this, while on the Off-Facebook activity page, click on Clear history from the right sidebar and hit the Clear history button.

Related Read: What Happens When You Restrict Someone on Facebook

II. Disable Off-Facebook activity using App (Android and iOS)

If you do not have access to a computer or you prefer accessing Facebook on your mobile phone — Android or iOS — you can use it to turn off Off-Facebook activity on your account using the following steps.

1. Open the Facebook app on your phone and log-in.

2. Click on the hamburger menu on the top-right (Android) or bottom-right (iOS), select Settings & Privacy, and tap on Settings.

3. Scroll down to the Your Facebook information section and select Off-Facebook activity.

disable off-facebook activity (app)

4. Tap on More options and select manage Future Activity.

5. Again, click on the Manage Future Activity button at the bottom.

6. Lastly, toggle the button next to Future off-Facebook activity to the off state.

disable off-facebook activity (app)

These steps will completely turn off Off-Facebook activity on your account. But, if you wish to restrict only some specific apps and websites, you can do that as well by turning off future activity for each service one-by-one.

Moreover, you can also clear and disconnect Off-Facebook activity history from your account. To do this, head back to the Off-Facebook activity screen, select Clear history, and tap on the Clear history button.

Preventing Facebook tracking by disabling Off-Facebook activity

Like we already mentioned earlier, by disabling Off-Facebook activity on your account, you can limit your exposure to trackers, and in turn, bring down your data footprint on the internet. But having said that, you should also note that, even though you disable Off-Facebook activity, your existing data can still be used — albeit it will not be directly linked to your profile like it did earlier. Likewise, ads will still continue to pop-up for you on the internet, but they will be less personalized than before.

Off-Facebook activity is just one of the different ways for Facebook to harvest user data. And so, if you disable just one of them, there is no way to guarantee that you will not be tracked or served personalized ads on the internet. But having said that, if being watched and tracked on your every online activity is something that bothers you, you should disable Off-Facebook activity on your account and limit tracking to some extent.

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