Facebook is tracking your activity even when you're not on its app or website

Here's how you can turn it off and check other privacy features on other apps and services
Posted at 8:17 AM, Jan 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-31 20:50:49-05

Tech companies are becoming more transparent about how they're collecting your data and what it's being used for.

This comes as Facebook admits it's been tracking what you do outside of its app and website.

"Off-Facebook Activity" includes information that businesses and organizations send back to Facebook about your interactions with them.

Facebook says it uses this data to show you ads that are more relevant, but some have expressed online that this is an invasion of privacy.

You can turn the Off-Facebook Activity tracking off by going here.

Once on that page, you'll click "More options" on the menu on the right side of the website, revealing the "Manage Future Activity" link.

Click that and it will take you to a page where you can turn off the Off-Facebook Activity tracking (it may ask you to enter your Facebook password).

Jennifer Huddleston, the director of technology and innovation policy at the American Action Forum, said that it's important to read through the privacy section and make changes that align with what you're comfortable with.

"I also think that consumers may, when they download a new app or sign up for a new service, want to actually think through those options, rather than just clicking yes to quickly get to the service," Huddleston said.

Some apps and social media sites also offer privacy checkups. For example, Facebook has a dashboard that lets you go through all of your privacy settings and adjust them at any time.

Twitter has a privacy section on its help center that guides you through privacy changes you can make like controlling your experience, protecting your tweets by making them private, and keeping your account secure.

Instagram also explains what data it collects from you and how it uses it on its Data Policy page.

Facebook owns Instagram now, so you can make changes to your data privacy settings through Facebook.

Also, when you download a new app on an Apple device, push notifications will ask you if you'd like to give access to things like your camera, microphone, or location, rather than just giving that app or service access automatically.

"You may be someone who’s a little leery about giving a product your GPS location," Huddleston said. "However if that product is a mapping service, it’s going to be beneficial in your ability to use that product so it can give you real-time updates on traffic, or directions, or whatever it needs to do."

Huddleston recommends revisiting your privacy preferences over time to make sure you're getting the experience you want.