Facebook Hands Back Some Ad Controls To Users

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Written By Hasan Rezazadeh

Facebook is taking steps to listen to concerns about data protection with the introduction of a new feature.

Disconnect allows users to separate their browsing histories outside Facebook from the social media network.

The tool stops businesses sharing data with Facebook that they collected through cookies embedded in a browser.

Facebook’s tool summarises off-Facebook web activity and lets users stop web sites and apps sending data to the social network.

Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, explained how the tool works.

How Off-Facebook Activity tool works

“Imagine a clothing website wants to show ads to people who are interested in a new style of shoes. They can send information to Facebook saying someone on a device looked at those shoes. If that device information matches someone’s Facebook account, we can show ads about those shoes to that person.,” she says.

With Off-Facebook Activity, users can see and control the data that other apps and web sites share with Facebook.

The screen shows:

  • A summary of the information other apps and web sites have sent Facebook through our online business tools, like Facebook Pixel or Facebook Login
  • Disconnect this information from your account if you want to
  • Choose to disconnect future off-Facebook activity from your account. You can do this for all your off-Facebook activity, or just for specific apps and websites.

Egan warns that although the tool stops ads following you on to Facebook, the number of ads you see will not be reduced.

Information and transparency

The Off-Facebook Activity tool is already available in Ireland, Spain and South Korea. A roll-out to the rest of the world will follow soon.

Egan also explained other tools to control posts and adverts have been introduced, like Why am I seeing this ad? and Why am I seeing this post?

“We’re working hard to make advertising more transparent and to give people more information about the ads they see. Today, we’re rolling out an improved Ad Library that brings together all ads on our platforms. We’re also making transparency information more visible on Pages, expanding access to our API to help more people analyse political or issue ads, and exempting news publishers from labelling their ads as related to politics or issues in the US,” says Facebook.