How to view and clear your off-Facebook activity
Facebook is renowned for its Big Brother way of doing things. No matter what you're doing on the internet, this company seems to know it all, and it seems there's no way of hiding from its long arm that doesn't care about our privacy. Although it's hard for us to believe that Facebook's going to change its approach, there is some good news that we'd like to share with you. Recently, Facebook introduced a new option to its platform, called "Off-Facebook Activity" that lets you see and delete some of the information that the company has about you. Furthermore, that also includes data that Facebook shared or acquired from other websites and apps that you use and, at the same time, use Facebook's APIs and services. Here is how to view and clear your "Off-Facebook Activity:"
How to access your Off-Facebook activity
Open your web browser and authenticate to your Facebook account. Then, click or tap on the small arrow-shaped button from the top-right corner of the webpage.
On the menu that shows up, click or tap on Settings.
On Facebook's Settings page, select "Your Facebook Information" from the options on the left side.
On the right side of the page, you should find a section called "Off-Facebook activity." If you read the information next to it, you find that "Off-Facebook activity" lets you "View or clear activity from businesses and organizations that you visit off Facebook." Click or tap on View.
TIP: To make things easier, you can also use this direct link: Off-Facebook Activity.
How to view your Off-Facebook activity
Facebook loads the Off-Facebook activity page. On it, you can read a bit about what off-Facebook activity means and what it's theoretically used for by the company. Read the details if you want, and then click or tap on the "Manage your off-Facebook activity" link from the right side of the page.
The previous action loads a new page, called "Your off-Facebook activity." At this stage, depending on your security settings, Facebook may ask you to re-enter your account password. Then, you can view all the apps and websites that have shared information about you with Facebook.
You can also click/tap on a website or app if you want to know what information it shared about you with Facebook. That information includes your activity in that app or on that website: how many times you've interacted with it, when you logged in using Facebook, and how Facebook acquired information about you from that app or website. It is pretty scary if you think just how many apps and websites are using Facebook's APIs (aka business tools) that can track you even if you don't have a Facebook account!
To see some details, click or tap on each of the types of information collected by Facebook. For example, if you click or tap on the interactions link, you learn that interactions can mean any kind of activity you had on that website or app. Interactions can mean that you've opened apps, logged in using Facebook, visited a website, searched for something, added something to your wishlist or the basket, made a purchase, or even a donation. It's practically anything that can be used by Facebook to show you "relevant ads."
How to turn off future activity from an app or website, so that Facebook doesn't link it to your account
For each app and website, you can scroll down until you reach the bottom of its Activity details. There, in the section called "What can you do," you can find a link that says "Turn off future activity from [App or Website]."
If you click or tap on the "Turn off future activity from [App or Website]" link, Facebook stops linking your account to the information collected from that website or app.
However, that doesn't mean that it also stops collecting it - it still gathers everything it can about you, but should stop using it to deliver you "relevant ads" based on that information. It doesn't look like it is an actual full-stop, but it is better than nothing. If you want to continue, click or tap on Turn Off.
Then, Facebook tells you that your future activity on that website or app is no longer tracked. However, it might take up to 48 hours until your past activity is disconnected from your account
How to clear your Off-Facebook activity
What if you want to remove all your off-Facebook activity? In that case, go back to the "Your off-Facebook activity" page, and click or tap on the Clear history button from the top of the page.
As expected, Facebook is warning you that, if you choose to "clear your off-Facebook activity from your account," then:
- Your activity history is going to be disconnected from your account, although Facebook still receives your activity from apps and websites in the future (check the next section of this guide to see how to disable that as well)
- You might be logged out of apps and websites on which you've authenticated with your Facebook account
- You're still going to see the same number of ads, and every action you take on Facebook is still going to be used to show you "relevant ads."
Either way, if you don't want Facebook to keep your name tag on all the information that it has gathered about you in the past, push the Clear history button.
If you chose to clear your history, Facebook now tells you that it's gone.
How to make sure that Facebook doesn't link your Off-Facebook activity to your account
Next comes the part in which you try to make sure that Facebook won't link your Off-Facebook Activity to your account in the future (we prefer to say try because you never know whether Facebook really does what it says). Back to "Your off-Facebook activity" page, click or tap on the Manage Future Activity link from the More options sidebar on the right. Alternatively, follow this link to get to the "Future off-Facebook activity" setting directly.
Now click or tap on "Manage Future Activity" once more.
On the next page, disable the "Future off-Facebook activity" switch.
Read the warnings that Facebook shows and, if you still want to disconnect your Facebook account from any future activity you might have on other websites or apps, push the Turn Off button.
No regrets! :)
Did you just want to see your off-Facebook activity, or did you also want to clear it completely?
I, myself, admit that I dislike the way Facebook tracks my every move. I get it that it wants to track us on its social network and even on the other apps that Facebook owns, such as Whatsapp, for example. However, I'm sickened by how much information Facebook collects about us on other websites and apps that have little to do with Facebook. It's just awful! Do you feel the same? Also, if you have something to add to this article, feel free to leave a comment in the section below.