27 Aug 2019

Facebook’s new tool isn’t a remedy for privacy concerns

‘There’s no way out’, says Yair Cohen, Social Media Expert

Yair Cohen Live on RT International Facebook new privacy tool Off-Facebook activity from Yair Cohen Solicitor on Vimeo.

Earlier this week, Facebook introduced a new privacy feature that will give users clearer information from apps and websites they browse outside of the social network and the type of information they share with Facebook. 

Facebook is collecting data about its users even if the users are not logged in to Facebook or have not visited the app for days or even months.

The data it collects allows it to profit through sales of advertising and sales of the data to third parties, including advertisers.

The feature, called Off-Facebook Activity, will show you a list of apps and websites that share your online activity with Facebook and it will allow you to disconnect this browsing activity from your Facebook account now and in the future. However, even after disconnecting the apps from Facebook, Facebook will continue to collect your data, without it being linked to your account so Facebook will still benefit from your data which is collected outside your Facebook activities but it will not be allowed to use that particular data to target you with personalised ads.

The tool, as you would expect, isn’t going to be easily accessible and Facebook users will need to work fairly hard to get to it.

It will be hidden under one of the sub-menus in your Facebook control panel. The tool is currently being tested and isn’t available yet in most EU countries.

Off-Facebook Activity menu options will give you a choice to view what information other apps and websites share with Facebook. You will also be able to clear your history, which means the social network will disconnect your account from your activity on certain apps and websites or all of them in the future.

Nothing, however, will happen for the first 48 hours after your removed permission, according to Facebook, and it is not clear why Facebook needs that long to affect the users’ requests.

It is also unclear how much detail Facebook is going to provide you about the nature of the data that is being passed on to it via the third party websites and apps. The information is expected to be very limited to the name of the website and the country of its origin.

You would be surprised to learn how much information Facebook has about you. The number and the nature of the website or apps that send data to Facebook might astonish you. You might have visited some of those websites by accident, clicked on an advert that sent you there or someone might have used your device to access those apps.

It seems that there is no way out of Facebook still benefiting from using your data, even if you are able to find the Off-Facebook feature and use it.

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