On the heels of Data Privacy Day last week, Facebook introduced the “Off-Facebook Activity” tool, which shows you all of the businesses and apps that give information about you to Facebook. This information seems to be collected by those 3rd parties whether or not you were using FB in any way to log into, visit or use those sites/apps. They simply have a business relationship of some kind, which results in the collection and sharing of information about you.
Kudos to Facebook for providing this information and giving us tools to further manage our privacy. While we have consistently pushed for more transparency, it is still appalling to see all the businesses that collect, sell and use our personal information for their own gain. Although everyone is entitled to their own opinion and may feel differently/indifferent about this, it is important to know that you all have some choice now in the matter.
Take back some control
If you don’t want Facebook storing this information about you with your Facebook account, go to the tool and turn it off today! Here’s how:
- Manage your Off-Facebook Activity;
- You may be prompted for a password;
- You will then see the list of businesses who have given information about you to Facebook (because of some business relationship they have);
- Clear History; and then finally
- Manage Future Activity – Turn it off.
To be clear – this won’t stop Facebook from getting that data about you in the future (unless you stop doing business with all the sites/apps listed) or from them using it to target advertising to you. But if you turn it off, it will no longer be attached to your Facebook account.
What happens next?
This is a good step by Facebook. But like every other technical act to promote online privacy, it remains to be seen what they will do to make sure every user knows about this tool and how to use it.
It will also be interesting to see how their advertisers respond to this increasing transparency and control for users. When I saw the list of apps and companies in my Off-Facebook activity, I definitely had a negative reaction and considered removing those apps or discontinuing my relationship with those companies’ websites, some of which I didn’t even remember I had previously interacted with.
Finally, who’s next? Hopefully, Google, Twitter, and others will soon follow suit along with credit card companies and so many others who collect, store and trade so much information about us. Once they do, let’s be sure to take an active role in our own privacy. Every step in the right direction these companies make requires us to take one, too. Today, go see the new Facebook tool, educate yourself, delete or turn off whatever you wish, but know there is now some control in your hands.
And let’s keep demanding transparency and control of our privacy online from all that are fully capable of giving it to us.
Lynette Owens is the Founder and Global Director of Trend Micro’s Internet Safety for Kids and Families program. With 20+ years in the tech industry, Lynette speaks and blogs regularly on how to help kids become great digital citizens. She works with communities and 1:1 school districts across the U.S. and around the world to support online safety, digital and media literacy and digital citizenship education. She is a board member of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, an advisory committee member of the Digital Wellness Lab, and serves on the advisory boards of INHOPE and U.S. Safer Internet Day.
Follow her on Twitter @lynettetowens