This illustration picture, taken on January 12, 2020 shows Facebook social network logo reflected on a eye in Rennes, western France
This illustration picture, taken on January 12, 2020 shows Facebook social network logo reflected on a eye in Rennes, western France

Facebook launches new tool allowing users to see what it has learnt about them from the rest of the internet

Feature can be used to remove information collected on third-party sites

Andrew Griffin@_andrew_griffin
Tuesday 28 January 2020 11:55
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Facebook will now tell users what it has learnt about them from the rest of the internet.

A new tool, known as "Off-Facebook Activity", collects the information that has been gathered from other websites and apps and linked with their accounts.

Facebook uses such data – collected as users browse around other sites and services – to target its advertising, which has led to criticism from privacy experts.

The tool was initially launched as part of tests in Ireland, South Korea and Spain last August, but is now being pushed out to the rest of the world.

Using the tool, people can see and remove information about themselves that has been sent to Facebook by other apps and sites and is used to serve adverts.

When first announced, the tech giant said the feature allows users to disconnect future off-Facebook activity from their account, either in its entirety or just for specific apps and websites.

Facebook also said at the time that it expected the tool "could have some impact on our business", but believed that giving people control over their data was more important.

Much of the advertising on the internet is served to users based on previous online viewing habits, with businesses paying for sites such as Facebook to use this activity information to place adverts in front of users it believes are relevant to them.

The launch of Off-Facebook Activity controls universally coincides with Global Data Privacy Day.

Steve Hatch, vice president of northern Europe at Facebook, said: "There are a number of ways you can control your information on Facebook and we're always looking at more ways for you to do this.

"That's why from today, our Off-Facebook Activity tool will make it easy to manage which apps and websites can access your information.

"We're also marking Global Data Privacy Day by reminding millions of UK users to check their privacy settings with our simple Privacy Checkup so you're in control of what you share, and who with."

Additional reporting by Press Association

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