It is a well known fact that Facebook (or any social media really) is interested in getting as much information as possible about your interests and online activity, including off-Facebook activity. This includes, for example, your activity on other websites and applications, that is shared with Facebook by other businesses and organizations. More accurate behavioral data, to a social media company, directly translates to a higher profit.
Data like this is extremely valuable to a social media platform, since it allows to target its customers with personalized and more relevant ads or content.
This guide will explain how you can access your off-Facebook activity and control what services and applications are allowed to share information about your activity to Facebook. The screenshots we are providing were taken on an Android phone, but the steps are the same for an iPhone.
Check what information Facebook collected about you
Finding out which websites, apps, or third-party services shared your data with Facebook is very easy, just follow these steps:
- On your Facebook app, click on the three lines at the top-right corner and then click on Settings, as shown below.
- Scroll down until you find the Off-Facebook Activity option and click on it.
- You will then be presented with a window from which you can manage your off-Facebook activity.
From this window you will be able to see what kind of off-Facebook activity was collected about you. Note that in the screenshot above Facebook states “You have no available activity to show at this time”: this is only because off-Facebook activity tracking was disabled on this device. If any information about your activity was shared with Facebook from other services, you will see a list of them here.
If you don’t want Facebook to possess this data and want to prevent it from collecting similar information in the future, keep reading.
How to clear off-Facebook activity history
From the same window where you checked your off-Facebook activity data, you can click on Clear History on your data will be cleared immediately.
How to disable off-Facebook activity tracking
While clicking on Clear History will take care of off-Facebook activity information collected in the past, this will not affect future data collection nor prevent it. In order to disable any kind of off-Facebook activity tracking in the future, you can follow these steps:
- Click on the three dots at the top-right corner, as shown below, and then on Manage Future Activity.
- At this point, you will be presented with a window explaining how off-Facebook activity data is used by the company. Go ahead and click on Manage Future Activity and then Turn Off to proceed.
- Done! Your future activity tracking should now be turned-off as shown below.
Now that you disabled off-Facebook activity tracking, let’s see what else you can do from these settings as a bonus.
Access and download your Facebook information
If you navigate back to the Your Off-Facebook Activity menu, you will see two options:
- Access Your Information
- Download Your Information
By clicking on the first option, you are able to see information about your posts, likes, contacts, comments, friends, groups, apps, and so on.
By selecting the second option, instead, you will be taken to a new menu from which you can request a copy of your data, by clicking on Request Copy. To do so, just select the information you want to download and a suitable option for each of the following three fields:
- Data range of interest
- Whether you want to download your data in HTML or JSON format (HTML will be easier to view, while JSON is more convenient for parsing)
- Media quality
Once you click on Create File, Facebook will start generating your archive. Note that it can take up to several hours before your data is available for download. Also note that, if you decide to download all photos and videos, the final archive can be very large.
Once your archive is ready for download, you will receive a notification. At this point, navigate to Download Your Information -> Available Copies and proceed. It is recommended that you do this from a computer and not from your smartphone.
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