You don’t have to be using Facebook for Facebook to be able to track you. In fact, websites and apps that appear to have nothing to do with Facebook are probably sending details about you to Facebook right now. Fortunately, we’ve put together this guide to stop Facebook tracking your web browsing.
Off-Facebook Activity is a tool that lists all the apps and websites that are quietly feeding your data to Facebook.
Facebook uses this data for advertising purposes, and to “help businesses and organizations understand how their website, app or ads are performing and whether they’re reaching the right people” − a deliberately vaguely worded phrase that could mean just about anything.
However, you can force these apps and websites to stop linking all of this data to your Facebook account, stopping Facebook from tracking your web browsing.
How to find out who’s sending your data to Facebook
To find out which apps and websites are sending your data to Facebook, go to Settings > Your Facebook Information > Off-Facebook Activity > Manage Your Off-Facebook Activity.
Enter your Facebook password, and you’ll be presented with a list that may be far longer than you expected.
The first time I used the tool, my list had more than 500 entries on it.
How to delete your off-Facebook activity
You can disconnect this data from your Facebook account by clicking the ‘Clear History’ button at the top of the page. Though before doing this, you may want to pluck up some courage and delve deeper into the data, by clicking each individual listing and hitting Download Activity Details.
There is one downside to disconnecting your off-Facebook activities from your Facebook account, though. If you were logged in to any apps or websites through your Facebook account, such as Spotify or Tinder, you’ll automatically be logged out of them.
If you were to log into these services again through your Facebook account, they’ll start sending details about your off-Facebook activities to Facebook again. We’d suggest that you don’t log in to them through your Facebook account − use your email address instead.
How to switch off off-Facebook activity for all apps and websites
We’d also recommend going one step further by switching off your future off-Facebook activity for all apps and websites.
You can do this by going to Settings > Your Facebook Information > Off-Facebook Activity > More Options > Manage Future Activity > Manage Future Activity, then turn the Future Off-Facebook Activity toggle off.
It’ll take 48 hours for your off-Facebook activities to be disconnected from your Facebook account, so you should check the Off-Facebook Activity section of Facebook again a couple of days later, to make sure that nothing new has been fed Facebook’s way.
Third-party websites and apps that use any of Facebook’s business tools will continue to send details of your off-Facebook activities to Facebook, but this data will no longer be linked to your Facebook account.
And the ads you see on Facebook will be based on your on-Facebook activities, rather than your activities on other apps and websites.
Related: How to delete your Facebook account