Facebook knows everything you do on the web: how to turn off site targeting

Facebook knows everything you do on the web: how to turn off site targeting

Facebook is making available to its members a new utility called “Activity outside of Facebook”. It lists all the sites or applications that have sent data about you to the social network and that reflect your interactions when you are not on the community site.

What is activity outside of Facebook?

This is a section that Facebook has been offering its members since January 2020. In it, it is possible to display an overview of the information that the social network receives from the websites and applications that use its tools. This information is in fact the interactions that Internet users have with these websites and applications.

These interactions can be, for example, a web user connecting, via Facebook, to a site or application. It can also be an act of purchase on a merchant site: if an item is purchased, the site informs Facebook via the tools that the community site makes available to it. This associates the information with the account of the Internet user who made the purchase, so that targeted advertising can be offered.

L’activité en dehors de Facebook est un outil que le réseau social s’était engagé à fournir, il y a quelques années de cela. // Source : Facebook / Numerama

Activity outside Facebook is a tool that the social network committed itself to providing a few years ago. // Source : Facebook / Numerama

Other signals that are taken into account include searching for an item on a site, viewing content (a newspaper article, for example), adding an item to a shopping cart, donating to an organization or opening an application. The list is not exhaustive. Concretely, this is most of the interactions that one can have with a site or an application.

The utility had been planned for a long time: in May 2018, a few weeks before the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and as it was painfully emerging from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook had promised to release a tool to erase Facebook’s web tracking. But since then, the social network had not talked about it again, except in February 2019.

How do I delete my activity outside of Facebook?

The first thing to do is to go to your profile settings, which can be accessed through this link or by clicking on the down arrow at the top right of the site. In the left-hand column :

  • go to the “Your Facebook information” section,
  • then, in the middle column, select the row “Activity outside of Facebook”.

L’option pour demander l’effacement de l’historique se trouve dans la colonne de droite.

The option to request the deletion of the history can be found in the right column.

By clicking on it, a window will then appear asking you to confirm your action. Facebook will warn you of two things: first, it will not affect the number of ads you see on the social network. Then, the future activities that you will have outside the platform will gradually fill your history.

Under these conditions, you will have to return to this page from time to time to remove information that you no longer consider relevant. However, it is possible to perpetuate and automate this work, by completely disabling the association of your activity outside the social network with your account. This is the purpose of the guide below.

How do I disable my activity outside of Facebook?

For Internet users who want to go further, Facebook offers a second option that is a little less obvious to find because of its name: in the “Manage future activity” section, the community site allows you to uncheck the option that associates your account on the social network with the activity you have outside. This applies to websites and applications.

Note that this section may not be immediately visible. You need to pull down the side menu, by clicking on “More Options”, to display the section. When you click on it, a pop-up window will appear: you will need to confirm, enter your password and disable the “Future activity outside Facebook” setting. The little icon should turn gray.

Le réglage est caché dans le menu latéral : déroulez-le pour le voir.

The setting is hidden in the side menu: unroll it to see it.

Again, Facebook warns that this results in depersonalizing the experience and the ads. They will be less focused and therefore less relevant. The same number of ads will be posted and your activity outside of Facebook will always be received by Facebook. It will simply no longer be associated with your account. It can take up to 48 hours for the cut to take effect.

A final warning from the social network: by breaking links in this way, you also risk breaking the links you have made between your profile and websites and applications, or that you would like to establish in the future. But by doing so, you won’t have to go back to your history every now and then to sweep up. Of course, the setting can be reactivated at any time.

La désactivation de cette option aura des effets positifs et négatifs, prévient Facebook.

Disabling this option will have both positive and negative effects, Facebook warns.

How does Facebook receive this information?

The community site uses various tools, such as the Facebook Login connection utility, its development kits (SDKs), its programming interfaces (APIs) or the “Facebook pixel” (a piece of code that is inserted into websites and that can return useful information to webmasters, but also to the social network), to repatriate this information.

L’outil de connexion Facebook est l’un des capteurs qui sert à Facebook pour glaner des informations.

The Facebook login tool is one of the sensors that Facebook uses to glean information.

These tools are part of the services that the company makes available via Facebook for Business. According to Facebook, companies and organizations are asked to “inform users before using business tools. In theory, therefore, Internet users are not supposed to discover with amazement the existence of such transfers.

The social network also makes it known that it refuses the transfer of certain information because it is too sensitive. This includes passwords, birthday, health and financial information, among other things. “If we have determined that a company or organization is violating our Terms and Conditions, we will take appropriate action against them. »

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