Ever logged on to Facebook to see an advertisement for something you swore you’d never typed into a computer before but had been thinking about? Well that’s not because the company is listening to you through your computer but rather because other websites and apps you visit are sharing your information and searches with them.
Users can now see the extent of this sharing with the off-Facebook activity monitor.
It is not that straight-forward to find this tool in your settings but you can jump straight to it here.
Through this new tool, Facebook shows you all the sites which have sent them information and, depending on your personal settings, have used to tailor your advertising and the content it shows you on your newsfeed such as events.
These businesses and organisations are mostly using Facebook’s business tools. They add these tools to their website and they automatically send your data to Facebook.
While Facebook is clearly trying to be more transparent with regards to their data, after all the scandals involving data leaks and data collections, the options they provide you to opt-out of websites sending them your data isn’t really that effective. In essence, you can choose to turn off activity for certain sites, but this doesn’t mean they stop collecting this data. Rather, they will continue to collect it, it just won’t be associated with your account.
Although this is a step towards some control over data sharing, it also proves there is no escaping Facebook’s reach when it comes to data mining. At best you can minimise the impact, but you can never fully disengage.