Facebook lets users clear advertising data held by third-party sites

A user can then either block app or site from sharing data, or block all services in one go.

Facebook: move towards more transparency over how it makes money from ads
Facebook: move towards more transparency over how it makes money from ads

Facebook is allowing users to clear the data that third-party websites and apps share with the platform in order to serve ads.

The tool, Off-Facebook Activity, allows Facebook users to bring up a list of all of those sending data to the social network giant, then tap on a specific app or website to learn what data is being shared.

A user can then either block the app or site from sharing data, or block all of the services in one go. 

However, Facebook is not deleting data that a third party might have collected about users' online browsing behaviour. It is removing the link between that data and users' personal information on Facebook.

In practice, it will mean a user will be immediately logged out of any website or app that they used with a Facebook login.

It is the latest move from Facebook to become more transparent about how it collects and uses data following last year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. Last month, the US Federal Trade Commission criticised the social media giant's "deceptive" privacy settings and for "unreasonable" conduct regarding its relationship with third-party app developers.

It follows founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement last year that Facebook would create a "clear history" feature.

Jasmine Enberg, social media analyst at eMarketer, said Facebook’s decision put the onus on consumers for monitoring their user privacy. 

She added: "It takes a proactive step for consumers to go into their Facebook settings and turn on the feature. As we’ve seen in the past, there is a disconnect between people who say they care about privacy and those who actually do something about it. If not enough people use the tool, it’s unlikely that it will have a material impact on Facebook’s bottom line." 

Off-Facebook Activity is rolling out initially in Ireland, South Korea and Spain, and will expand to more countries "in the coming months", Facebook added.

This article first appeared on PRWeek sister title Campaign

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