Soon you could get fewer familiar ads following you around the internet – or at least on Facebook thanks to an initiative by the social media giant that seeks to stem user data piracy.
Facebook is launching a long-awaited tool that lets users block the social network from gathering information about you on outside websites and apps.
The company made the announcement on Tuesday saying that it is adding a section where users can see what activity Facebook tracks outside its primary service. This also comes with a feature that allows one to turn off the tracking or otherwise, it will continue as it has been.
This tool was previously known as ‘clear history,’ but since its revamping, it has been renamed to ‘off-Facebook activity.’
The feature will be available in South Korea, Ireland and Spain on Tuesday, consistent with Facebook’s tendency to launch features in smaller markets first.
The company, however. did not give a timeline for when it would be available to other countries but only said that it will be ‘coming in the next few months’
Blocking the tracking could mean fewer ads that seem familiar – for example, for a pair of shoes you decided not to buy.
This feature is on by default and although serving its purpose well, It won’t change the actual number of ads you’ll see on Facebook.
This addition comes as Facebook faces increasing governmental scrutiny over its privacy practices, including a record $5 billion fine from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for mishandling user data.
Boosting its privacy protections could help the company pre-empt regulation and further punishment. The action is still handled delicately considering that facebook almost entirely depends on advertisement as its primary source of revenue
CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the ‘clear history’ feature more than a year ago.
The company said building it has been a complicated technical process, which is also the reason for the slow, gradual rollout.
Facebook also sought input from users, privacy experts, and policymakers whose input led to some changes.
For instance, users will be able to disconnect their activity from specific websites or apps or reconnect to a specific site while keeping other future tracking turned off.
You’ll also be able to access the feature by going to your Facebook settings and scrolling down to ‘your Facebook information.’ The ‘off-Facebook activity’ section will be there when it launches.
The tool also lets users delete their past browsing history from Facebook and prevent it from keeping track of their future clicks, taps, and website.
Doing so means that Facebook won’t use information gathered from apps and websites to tune ads that users receive in their Instagram or WhatsApp platforms.