By Tracey Dowdy
Off-Facebook activity is a summary of your online activity businesses and organizations share with Facebook when you visit their apps or websites. The partnership is through Facebook’s Business Tools and collates data through tools like Facebook Login, (when you log in to an app or website using your Facebook login), Facebook SDK, or Facebook Pixel. Then, it shares this information with the platform.
Up until last year, you had little control over the data that apps and websites shared with Facebook, and no way to monitor the kind of information those third-party apps could access. But Off-Facebook activity acts as privacy control, allowing you to limit or prevent your activity from being seen and shared.
Facebook uses your off-Facebook activity and your activity on Facebook to:
- Show you more relevant ads. (Customize your ad experience using Ad Preferences).
- Suggest groups, events, or Marketplace items you might be interested in.
- Help you discover new businesses and brands.
- Help businesses and organizations understand how their website, app, or ads are performing and whether they’re reaching the right people.
- Identify suspicious activity to help keep Facebook safe.
If you want to see what information is being shared, go to Facebook’s business tools, and review it. From here, you can edit your settings, clear the information, limit what third-party apps and sites can access, and turn off future off-Facebook activity from your account.
To make the changes, go to Settings & Privacy > Settings > Your Facebook Information > Off-Facebook Activity. Once it’s cleared, Facebook won’t be able to track your offsite activity, and you won’t see annoying, targeted ads from those sites.
If you’d like to go one step further and take control of which ads you see on Facebook, go to Settings > Ad Preferences. Under Advertisers and Businesses, check which advertisers have run ads using a list that’s been uploaded to Facebook using your information. Choose a company, then Don’t Allow, and going forward, you’ll no longer see ads from these advertisers when they use a list from that company.
Another option is to go to Ad Settings and choose which ads to turn off ads based on your activity on Facebook Company Products that you see elsewhere, data from partners, or ads that include your social actions.
Note, this method won’t delete any data, and you’ll still see the same number of ads as you had previously.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years of working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.