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Facebook can see your web activity. Here's a new tool to stop it

The Off-Facebook Activity tool lets you see and control data that apps and websites share with the platform


Facebook's new privacy tool addresses privacy concerns.

Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook on Tuesday released a new privacy feature called Off-Facebook Activity. The tool lets you see and control data that apps and websites share with the platform and keep monitor the kind of information third-party apps can access.

With the new privacy feature, you can clear the history of apps and websites that have shared your data. You can also turn off future off-Facebook activity, which tells Facebook to disconnect any information that the company has shared from your account. Or, you can selectively choose which companies you want to stop sharing your activity and it'll stop showing you those targeted ads.

Here's how to get a better grip on your Facebook privacy.


The new Facebook feature allows you to control which sites share your information.


How the Off-Facebook Activity tool works

Using Facebook's business tools, you can see what information apps and websites have sent to Facebook. From there, you can clear the information from your account and turn off future "off-Facebook activity" from your account. You'll be able to control this for all apps and websites so they'll no longer be able to share your search activity with Facebook.

To get started, go to Settings > Your Facebook Information > Off-Facebook Activity. From there, you can manage your Off-Facebook Activity, clear all history and turn off any future activity to your account.

Now playing: Watch this: Let's talk about why privacy settings are a problem

What happens when you turn off activity managed by Off-Facebook

Once you clear the activity managed by the tool, Facebook will remove your identifying information that the apps and websites share. That means Facebook won't know which websites you visited or what you looked at, so you won't see any targeted ads from those sites. 

As the Washington Post points out, however, your data is not deleted, merely anonymized.


Turn off your activity.


What else you can do

If you'd like to control which ads you see (or don't) on Facebook, go to your Settings on your phone or desktop and select Ad Preferences

Under Advertisers and Businesses, you can see which advertisers have run ads using a list uploaded to Facebook containing your information. For now, you can choose to hide ads from any of the advertisers.

You can also go to Ad Settings and turn off ads based on data from partners, ads based on your activity on Facebook Company Products that you see elsewhere and ads that include your social actions. However, doing this won't delete any data and you'll still see the same number of ads as before. The off-Facebook activity feature is the best way to remove your data.

Originally published last year. Updated to add the privacy feature is available.