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Social media

Prepare to be shocked: See everywhere Facebook has followed you around the web

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that social media giant Facebook knows a lot about you. Most people fill out their profile information as thoroughly as possible, allowing them to connect to more people.

Besides signing into different websites and services with your Facebook credentials, you could reasonably expect that it stops tracking you as soon as you leave the platform. After all, what business does it have knowing what you do? Another Facebook data breach? Tap or click here to find out if your account was exposed.

As one user recently found out, Facebook knows more about your habits than what would probably be comfortable.

Here’s the backstory

American University student Zamaan Qureshi thought it would be interesting to download a copy of his Facebook data. His profile had been one of the 533 million accounts breached recently, and he was curious what it had on him.

Here’s how to download your Facebook information:

  • Open your Facebook profile on a desktop computer
  • In the top right-hand corner, click the Account button (It looks like an arrow pointing down)
  • Click on Settings & Privacy and then click Settings
  • On the left, select Your Facebook information
  • Click on Download your information

Going through the downloaded information, Qureshi noticed a folder called “your_off_facebook_activity.” It contained information from websites and apps that he accessed while not being on the platform.

“I’ve been aware that Facebook collects user data when you’re not on the platform and that was concerning to me. Facebook says that they’re transparent about how they do data collection, so I wanted to see if that’s actually the case,” he explained to Newsweek.

What can you do about it?

The platform will have a similar folder for every other user, and it keeps track of what everybody does on or off the site. The purpose of the off-platform data, according to Facebook, is “information that businesses and organizations share with us about your interactions with them, such as visiting their apps or websites.”

Not all apps or websites provide this information, but if you have ever signed into an app using your Facebook credentials, it will be listed there.

You can disconnect your off-Facebook activity from your account, but it might affect other apps. Here’s how to do it:

  • Open your Facebook profile on a desktop computer
  • In the top right-hand corner, click on the Account button (It looks like an arrow pointing down)
  • Click on Settings & Privacy and then click Settings
  • On the left, select Your Facebook information
  • Click on Off-Facebook activity
  • Under the What You Can Do section, click Clear History
  • Next, click More Options
  • Then click Manage Future Activity

This allows you to control future off-platform activity and eliminate any saved data associated with your account.

There are other ways to minimize what Facebook collects on you, like this one security setting you must change. But sadly, through using the service, you will never truly be able to hide from personalized ads or marketing.

“I hope what my thread has done is show people what sort of data is collected on them, even when they’re not on Facebook. But at the end of the day, the problem is that [Facebook’s] business model is to monetize user information to maximize profit over privacy,” Qureshi concluded.

Keep reading

Was your Facebook hacked? Here’s how to check the 533 million exposed records

How to stop all your smart devices from listening to you and recording what you say

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