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Facebook has a new privacy tool to protect your data -- here's how to use it now

Keep websites and apps from telling Facebook what you do.

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Facebook's new privacy tool addresses privacy concerns.

Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook is launching a new feature that lets you see and control data that apps and websites share with the platform. It's called Off-Facebook Activity and it lets you keep track of the kind of information third-party apps can access and what they're using it for. For example, if you're shopping for the Galaxy Note 10, Facebook can find out what you were searching for and show you targeted ads for that phone. 

With the new privacy feature, you can tell Facebook to disconnect any information that the company has shared from your account, and it'll stop showing you those targeted ads. Its launch follows a $5 billion fine from the Federal Trade Commission and a commitment from Facebook to better protect users' privacy.

Facebook is also updating its ad library, "Why am I seeing this ad?" and is adding a new feature called "Why am I seeing this post?" This will help you control what you see from your friends, pages and groups in your News Feed.

As of right now, Off-Facebook Activity is only available in Ireland, South Korea and Spain, but it will roll out everywhere else over the coming months. Here's everything we know so far.

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

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How Off-Facebook Activity will work

Using Facebook's business tools, you'll be able to see what information apps and websites have sent through Facebook. From there, you can remove 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 activities with Facebook.

When it's available, you'll go to Settings > Your Facebook Information > Off-Facebook Activity. From there, you'll be able to manage your Off-Facebook Activity, clear all history and turn off any future activity to your account, Facebook says.

What happens when you turn off the off-Facebook activity

Once you clear the off-Facebook activity, 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.

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Turn off your off-Facebook activity.

Facebook

What you can do now

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 should change this once it's rolled out.

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