Apps and websites share information about your activity on their sites with Facebook. Facebook uses this information to target you for ads that relate to your interests. Selling ads, of course, is a major component of Facebook’s business plan.
Facebook has just recently made available to users a tool that allows for some management of the data being shared. To access this tool, go to Facebook Settings. Access Settings by tapping/clicking on the tiny, black arrow on the right side of the blue menu bar. See below.
When Settings open, look at the left hand menu; tap/click on Your Facebook Information.
The next screen provides a link to Off-Facebook Activity (see above). Tap/click on this link.
Up pops a screen that explains what Off-Facebook Activity is, plus provides links for managing this activity and an option to clear your history (see right hand column in image above).
Tap/click on Manage your Off-Facebook Activity. You need to know your Facebook password to access this data.
You will see a screen that summarizes the apps and websites sharing info with Facebook. When I checked my information several days ago, it was 155 sites. Today it is 157!
Notice on the right, there are several more links. You can access, download, and manage future activity from these links.
Tap on any of the icons for the apps and websites, and you will see additional information. Below is an image of the data related to my Kindle app. You can see Facebook receives a lot of info about my Kindle use—if I made a purchase, how I opened the app (I never open via Facebook), if I visited their website, etc.
Access Your Information screen looks like this image.
This screen shows the categories of information Facebook is collecting to better offer information to businesses, political parties, organizations, and so on that help them target their ads to specific demographics. For example, people who are 50+ years old, are interested in fishing and hunting, and follow political posts may then see ads from companies selling outdoor equipment or organizations advocating a particular stance on the 2nd amendment or clothing designed for comfort and protection from the sun. Thus a 20 something with no interest in hunting and fishing will not see the same ads as our outdoorsy Boomer does.
If you tap/click on the little arrows, the information gets more specific. Here’s an example: if I tap on Likes and Reactions, I will see two more categories–posts and comments I have liked and pages I have like or reacted to. Tap again and the specific posts, comments, and pages appear. As you can see I can download this information. By tapping/clicking on Download Your Information, another screen appears (see below). Here you can choose which categories you wish to select by making sure the little boxes are checked. Then, Tap on Create File button.
On this screen, there is also an option to Access Your Information any time. Once you are back to that page, just tap on the different categories to see the specifics. This image below is what I found when I tapped on category labeled Ads and Businesses and then Ads Interest. I see ads for Newfoundland and Labrador all of the time. Fortunately, I enjoy them.
Once you have finished looking at your data, it’s decision time. Do you want to Clear your History? Your past activity will be cleared, however you will still see the same number of ads and Facebook will continue to receive information about your activity.
Another option is to Manage your Future Off-Facebook Activity. It seems that the ads you will see will be less personalized.
In order to get back to these choices after exploring the data collected, I had to go back to my Facebook news feed and navigate to Settings again. The back buttons only went so far.
There seems to be no absolute way to eliminate ads and sponsored sites from Facebook pages; however this Off-Facebook Activity Tool does allow you to see which apps and websites are sharing your information with Facebook. That’s an improvement from past practices. It then becomes a personal decision what to do with this information.
BoomerTECH Adventures (https://boomertechadventures.com/) does not share data with Facebook.