S'poreans advising one another to turn off 'Off-Facebook Activity' feature as it collects data outside Facebook

You can turn off the feature if you are not a fan of it.

Melanie Lim | April 24, 2020, 02:04 PM

If you ever feel like Facebook is spying on your every move online, you're probably right.

The social media behemoth collects data from you via its "Off-Facebook Activity" feature.

"Off-Facebook Activity" feature launched worldwide on January 28

The "Off-Facebook Activity" feature was launched worldwide on Jan. 28, 2020.

Facebook made this feature known to its users.

To see what "Off-Facebook Activity" looks like for yourself, you can click on the icon via your own Facebook account, and it will show you a list of information and data that businesses and organisations share with Facebook.

These information and data are derived from your interactions with the businesses online.

Interactions with businesses can include:

  • Opening an app
  • Logging into an app with Facebook
  • Viewing content
  • Searching for an item
  • Adding an item to a shopping cart
  • Making a purchase
  • Making a donation

Facebook then uses this information and data to personalise the experience of its users, such as by:

  • Showing them more relevant ads
  • Suggesting groups, events or Marketplace items one might be interested in
  • Helping one discover new businesses and brands
  • Helping businesses and organisations understand how their website, app or ads are performing and whether they're reaching the right people
  • Identifying suspicious activity to help keep Facebook safe

However, not everything you do outside the app will be shown in the Off-Facebook Activity feature.

For instance, one's most recent activity is not contained in the summary and it may also take a few days for one's activity to show up in the Off-Facebook Activity record.

Singaporeans concerned

On April 19, at least one Singaporean took to Facebook to warn others of this "new feature", which he half-correctly said was added since its "February 1st update".

As of April 24, his post has been shared over 2,400 times.

According to him, Facebook has been "monitoring and tracking" what people do when they're "offline and not on Facebook" via the "Off-Facebook Activity" feature for the past eight weeks.

He also listed down how one can de-activate this function and advised users to clear their history on the tool as well.

How to turn off future "off-Facebook activity" and disconnect past activity from account

Those who are not a fan of this feature can choose to turn off their future Off-Facebook Activity with the "Manage Future Activity" setting.

They can also choose to disconnect their Off-Facebook Activity, which will disconnect past activity from their account.

While users might still see the same number of ads, these ads will be less personalised.

However, turning off this function means that one will not be able to use Facebook to log into other apps or sites.

This means that one will have to create a new login for those accounts or apps, which is an inconvenience and to serve as a deterrence on people from turning off the "Off-Facebook Activity" function.

So should you turn it off?

To reiterate, if you turn it off, Facebook will still receive information about your activity.

It just won't be associated with your account and can't target certain ads at you.

Top image via Unsplash and Richard Giam on Facebook