Facebook's Off-Facebook Activity tool is now available to everyone - gHacks Tech News

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Facebook's Off-Facebook Activity tool is now available to everyone

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced today that a new privacy tool called Off-Facebook Activity is now available to Facebook users around the globe.

Designed to improve transparency, Off-Facebook Activity provides information about data that third-party businesses share with Facebook. Facebook uses the provided information to show advertisement to its users, for suggestions, e.g. groups or businesses, or to help organizations "understand how their website, app, or ads are performing".

The tool provides a summary of the information and an option to clear it from the Facebook account.

Off-Facebook Activity should be available in desktop and mobile versions of Facebook. Facebook users need to open the Settings of the service and select "Your Facebook Information" from the left column and then "Off-Facebook Activity" on the page that opens.

Tip: you can open the page directly as well using this link: https://www.facebook.com/off_facebook_activity/

off-facebook activity

A click on the link opens a summary and information. It starts with a list of companies or applications that shared data with Facebook. These are just examples and may not reflect the full list of companies and apps that shared data with Facebook.

The page provides an explanation that includes an example

  1. Jane buys a pair of shoes from an online clothing and shoe store.
  2. The store shares Jane's activity with us using our business tools.
  3. We receive Jane's off-Facebook activity and we save it with her Facebook account. The activity is saved as "visited the Clothes and Shoes website" and "made a purchase".
  4. Jane sees an ad on Facebook for a 10% off coupon on her next shoe or clothing purchase from the online store.

off-facebook activity page

More interesting that the summary or the description is the "what you can do" section. If lists the following options:

  • Manage your Off-Facebook Activity -- (requires the account password on desktop). Lists apps and websites that shared information with Facebook. Each is listed with a name and when the information was received. You can click on any item to display details, e.g. how many interactions were shared, and settings to turn off future activity for that particular company, or to give feedback.
  • Clear History -- The option disconnects the data from the account but does not prevent Facebook from receiving future data. Also note that Facebook uses the term "disconnect" and not delete or remove; this suggests that the data may not be deleted outright or at all.
  • Access your information -- A list of information that is categorized by Facebook; not necessarily relevant to Off-Facebook Activity.
  • Download your information -- An option to download information that Facebook has about your account and your activity.
  • Manage Future Activity -- An option to turn off Off-Facebook Activity entirely to prevent the linking of third-party data with the Facebook account in the future. Also provides options to manage individual items that you have blocked using "Manage your Off-Facebook Activity".

facebook activity shared

If you don't want Facebook to use third-party data and associate with your account, you need to do two things:

  1. Clear the History.
  2. Disable Off-Facebook Activity.

Note that Facebook linked the Future Activity option to its login system. A warning is displayed to users who click on the turn-off option that doing so will prevent the user from "logging into apps and websites with Facebook".

Closing Words

The Off-Facebook Activity tool may be an eye-opener to some users as it lists apps, websites, and companies that may have shared data with Facebook. Sharing does not necessarily mean that the data was sold to Facebook but it is possible that this was the case.

Now You: What is your take on Facebook's latest privacy initiative?

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Facebook's Off-Facebook Activity tool is now available to everyone
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Facebook's Off-Facebook Activity tool is now available to everyone
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced today that a new privacy tool called Off-Facebook Activity is now available to Facebook users around the globe.
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Comments

  1. bm said on January 28, 2020 at 9:04 pm
    Reply

    “Sharing does not necessarily mean that the data was sold to Facebook but it is possible that this was the case”

    I checked it out. Almost all the cases are websites I’ve visited when I likely had uMatrix turned off. That is one of the activity types tracked.

    Frankly, I doubt the average user could find this disclosure meaningful. But they can, at least, clear history and turn off Off-FB Activity, without much difficulty.

  2. Yuliya said on January 28, 2020 at 9:29 pm
    Reply

    Facebook
    🤢 🤮

  3. John Fenderson said on January 28, 2020 at 9:34 pm
    Reply

    I misunderstood the title of this article and got excited thinking that “everyone” would include non-Facebook users. Alas, that’s too much to hope for.

    > What is your take on Facebook’s latest privacy initiative?

    This is damning with faint praise, but it seems OK as far as it goes.

  4. Peterc said on January 28, 2020 at 11:05 pm
    Reply

    Hmmm. I use *three* “off-Facebook activity” tools:

    (1) I added the longest, most complete list of Facebook-related domains I could find to my hosts file.

    (2) I add all Facebook-related domains that come up in my script-blocker to its “Untrusted Sites” blacklist.

    (3) I don’t use Brave (the browser), which (last I read) undefeatably whitelists Facebook scripts.

    It’s sort of a belt-and-two-pairs-of-suspenders approach. But then again, I don’t *use* Facebook, because along with Alphabet/Google, they’re the most pervasive, pernicious, relentless privacy-violators on the planet and, from what I read, they’re putting an increasingly heavy finger on the scale where political discussion is concerned — like Google with its search results. No thank you.

    1. Sebas said on January 29, 2020 at 12:50 pm
      Reply

      On Brave you can use the Block Facebook extension. A huge host file on browser level. Don’t know if this blocks whitelisted Facebook scripts though.

      Anyway this extension blocks whatsapp web and Facebook itself.

  5. Russ said on January 28, 2020 at 11:21 pm
    Reply

    Despite the fact that I’ve never been to, done business with or visited their website, “The Home Depot, has shared your activity with Facebook.” Someone is lying – Facebook?

  6. ffb said on January 29, 2020 at 12:57 am
    Reply

    Can we get the same tool for whatsapp?

  7. ULBoom said on January 29, 2020 at 1:08 am
    Reply

    1. Jane buys shoes online.
    2. Merchant provides discount code Jane can download if desired.

    WTF is facebook doing in the chain? Typical “tech” get nothing for something deal. Unless Jane is a shoe buying fiend, the coupon has no value but many companies get Jane for free.

    Sure. If facebook is this dense, they’re nowhere near as smart as they think they are.

  8. Linton said on January 29, 2020 at 1:37 am
    Reply

    Creepy A.F.

  9. Stanley said on January 29, 2020 at 3:51 am
    Reply

    Facebook will now “allow” you to know about and even control some of the private data they’ve stolen from you – how commendable.

  10. Al said on January 29, 2020 at 6:12 am
    Reply

    I don’t see why that matters? Companies have to track you to find out what you like. So they can offer that to you. If not, they would go broke. Then most of the free areas of the web would go away. You can’t have it both ways.

    Until you can prove they use the data for evil purposes, you should stop whining. If you want my respect, drop it?

    1. Frank said on January 29, 2020 at 9:55 am
      Reply

      No actually they don’t, DuckDuckGo for example doesn’t track you but still displays ads to make money and they’re doing very well. Brave is working on another model that doesn’t require you to be tracked for content publishers to make money.

      This matters because people deserve to know who is tracking them and what information they are collecting. Facebook is not a good company. They have a long history of shady and unethical practices. We all have a right to privacy and there are some things all of us don’t want shared. Those of us without Facebook profiles would rather they didn’t have any of it and now its easier to see what apps are sharing data with facebook.

      I don’t think anyone (except you) is “whining” or cares about your respect, they author is just covering a news story. If its not something you care about no one is making you read it, much less comment so maybe find something more constructive to do with your life.

    2. 99 said on January 29, 2020 at 2:58 pm
      Reply

      >>> I don’t see why that matters?

      This is what matters: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism!

      Shoshana Zuboff on surveillance capitalism | VPRO Documentary
      [via tube]

    3. John Fenderson said on January 29, 2020 at 5:09 pm
      Reply

      @Al: “Companies have to track you to find out what you like. So they can offer that to you. If not, they would go broke.”

      They absolutely do not have to track you for this. If that were true, then no companies would have been able to be profitable until very recently when doing this became technologically possible.

      > Until you can prove they use the data for evil purposes, you should stop whining.

      No, we should not. Whether or not they use the data for “evil” purposes (and they absolutely use the data for purposes that I disapprove of) is irrelevant to the point. The point is that my data should not be collected without my informed consent. Period. This is a human rights issue.

    4. ULBoom said on January 31, 2020 at 12:19 am
      Reply

      If I can stop them with AdBlockers, VPN’s, OS and browser settings changes, I will. Best I can anyway. I never buy anything from ads; can’t, I never see any!

      The “I’ll go broke!!!” whine got old long ago. No reason I should support the flow of money at a level I never see when I get nothing from it beside slooooow browsing and gigantic images of junk from way off target targeted ads. Ads contribute nothing to me as an individual, so may as well stay out of the chain.

  11. Anonymous said on January 29, 2020 at 6:32 am
    Reply

    I’m glad you provided a web link to the info.

    Installing a privacy app from Facebook would not seem like a wise move.

  12. Tll said on January 29, 2020 at 11:11 am
    Reply

    I used a hidden link in the past to delete my fb account. It would be funny to use my old login data and see my account is only “disabled”.

  13. TRUST HULU said on January 29, 2020 at 6:49 pm
    Reply

    Funny how optimistic some of us are when we read something, when the meaning may not be what we expected..

    remove your private data = this just hides it from you

    we don’t collect user data = we have a hidden partner do that for us

    we don’t sell user data = we trade user data (quid pro quo)

  14. rickxs said on January 30, 2020 at 12:32 am
    Reply

    If you don’t want Facebook to use third-party data and associate with your account, you need to do two things:

    Clear the History.
    Disable Off-Facebook Activity.

    do that then see if you can download “my information ” —— yepppp still there

    ,.

  15. rickxs said on January 30, 2020 at 9:28 am
    Reply

    When i say still there ,you can still download your activity history , where you were at any given moment etc —I found Poco launcher , & Sygic [satnav] were sending to FB
    the download from off- facebook is 1.83gb ,quite a dossier

    https://snipboard.io/CZHk4n.jpg

    https://snipboard.io/uXdobi.jpg

    ,.,

  16. ULBoom said on January 31, 2020 at 12:26 am
    Reply

    In an odd twist, this tool was temporarily blocked by a court because the case of a minor defendant who was tricked into sex trafficking on fb could have her case compromised by data deletion.

    https://www.houstonchronicle.com/techburger/article/Houston-judge-blocks-Facebook-privacy-tool-15012013.php

    The tool’s been promised for two years, a little longer won’t matter much I suppose.

  17. Nick said on February 1, 2020 at 11:26 am
    Reply

    So… just a PR stunt

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