By Anja van den Berg
It is no surprise that Facebook tracks you on its platform – that is why you receive photos of memories in your stream. However, you might not yet realise the scope and the depth of its tracking across the internet.
Writing for Wired, David Nield says that Facebook’s tentacles stretch out across other websites and services. The social media giant tracks various apps you are using on your phone.
It also follows the places you physically visit in the real world, especially if you check in on Facebook while you are there. It even has ways of keeping tabs on people who are not even signed up for the service!
Facebook’s reach goes way beyond Facebook itself, Neild says. “It has partnerships with a whole host of marketing firms and ad networks so that activities on other sites – including but not limited to logging into a third-party service with your Facebook accounts – can be combined with your Facebook profile.”
Some of this comes with the territory of using the internet and being a Facebook user, Neild explains. “If you want to take advantage of its features, then you have to give up a certain amount of information about yourself”. However, Facebook is not a company with a good track record when looking after your data.
Fortunately, there are numerous ways to limit the volume of data that it logs. Here are a few tips:
- Under the Your information tab, you can see some of the ways Facebook is targeting advertising at you: your relationship status, your job title, where you went to university, and more. If you do not want these pieces of information to be used by advertisers, hit the relevant toggle switch.
- Open Ad settings to make even more changes. Here you can control whether Facebook can use data from its marketing partners to put more relevant advertising in front of you. If you do not want this to happen, switch the setting from Allowed to Not allowed.
- Facebook announced a tool called Off-Facebook Activity to disconnect data from outside websites from your Facebook profile. However, it does not affect how much data Facebook collects. It just breaks the association between what you do on Facebook and off it. For instance, if you are shopping for shoes on a third-party retail site, you will not suddenly see ads for them all over your news feed.
- More broadly, you can stop some of the web activity being used to target you with ads by visiting the YourAdChoices site run by the Digital Advertising Alliance. You will notice Facebook advertising targeting is on the list of entries. Tick the Opt Out Note that you will need to do this separately for each browser you use. For the most significant impact, you should opt-out of all the other platforms as well.
- Locking down tracking in your browser is also recommended: Look out for the option to block third-party cookies in your browser settings (the sort that can track activity across multiple sites), and consider using well-respected tracker blocking browser extensions such as Ghostery or Privacy Badger.
If you don’t trust Facebook’s intentions – which is by now understandable – the only real option to limit its power is to quit it altogether. To make matters more complicated, Facebook also owns WhatsApp and Instagram and can pool some of the information it gathers in those apps. The best way to limit Facebook’s tracking is to quit all three apps for good.
If that is a bit too extreme to your liking, limit your activity and become a social media “lurker”.
“Don’t check into locations, don’t tag photos, and don’t fill out quizzes that tell you which Disney character you are,” says Neild.
“Keep your profile information down to a minimum and think twice about sharing anything at all. On the phone, consider using Facebook on the mobile web instead of in the app”.
The Indian Express: https://indianexpress.com/article/technology/social/how-to-stop-facebook-from-tracking-you-on-apps-and-websites-7167602/