Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg used Data Privacy Day on Tuesday to give details about a new feature designed to give people more control over how they are tracked by the social networker across the internet.
Zuckerberg used a Facebook blog post to say the Off-Facebook Activity tool is now available to all of the company’s approximately 2.4 billion users worldwide. Facebook originally announced plans for the tool in 2018, which it called “Clear History” at that time.
Zuckerberg said that the purpose of Off-Facebook Activity will be to give people “a new level of transparency and control” over how they are tracked by advertisers when they are not using Facebook. Currently, other businesses send information about a person’s online activity to Facebook, which, in turn, uses that data to show relevant ads when a person is on the Facebook platform. This is why when you search online for information about a type of clothing, and then go back to Facebook, you may see ads promoting that same piece of clothing.
With the Off-Facebook Activity feature, Zuckerberg said someone can now “see a summary of that information and clear it from your account if you want to.” The feature also lets a person turn off future tracking of their data so that they don’t have to keep cleaning out their tracking history every time they visit Facebook.
However, advertisers can still send targeted ads at individuals by using contact information and other factors. A person needs to go to their ad controls and turn off the ads based on data from partners feature in order to stop seeing such advertisements.
Facebook has been criticized on numerous occasions over how it handles the privacy of its users’ personal information, including how it shares such data with advertisers. In November, 2019, the company rolled out a set of new tools to give advertisers more control over where their ads appear on the social-networking site. Earlier this month, Facebook said it would make no major changes to its political ad policies, and wouldn’t crack down on false or misleading statements in such ads.