Written byShubham Sharma ·
Facebook operates on people's data - it collects personal information from users and then sells the same to advertisers to show personalized ads to each individual and make money.
However, given the company's poor run at data privacy and security, many wonder how far this tracking practice goes and if it can be stopped or at least restricted.
Let's find out.
From hotel check-ins to current relationship status, Facebook knows a lot about you.
Some of this information is given inadvertently by users when they sign up on the platform and build 'their profile,' while the rest comes from the company's partners - marketing firms and ad networks that track web activity on third-party sites and combine that information with the Facebook profile of users.
This 'indirect tracking' by Facebook's marketing partners is the reason why the platform manages to show ads for different products as soon as you open them on the website or app of an e-commerce website.
While you can't stop Facebook from collecting the information you willingly share, there are a few controls to keep some of this data from reaching the company's advertisers.
Head over to Settings > Ads, click on the 'Your Information' and toggle all the options off. This will stop advertisers from using different pieces of your information, including your job title, relationship status, et al.
After cutting basic access, head over to the 'Your interests' section on the same page.
Here, you will find the things Facebook thinks you are interested in - all listed under categories like people, news and entertainment, and hobbies.
Just go through the list and remove all the interests you think are specific so that Facebook cannot use it to show adverts.
Beyond tweaking interests, we'd also recommend scrolling to 'Ad settings' on the same page and toggling the given options to 'not allowed'.
This will stop Facebook from showing ads on the basis of your activity tracked on third party sites/apps by the company's marketing partners.
Notably, it won't reduce the number of ads you see but will make them a little less personal.
Also, use the recently-introduced 'Off-Facebook Activity' tool to see what kind of information different sites/apps are sharing about you with Facebook. The tool, which is not yet available in India, gives detailed insight and also provides an option to block the sharing at website/app level.
Though Off-Facebook Activity can stop specific sites from sharing your data/web activity with Facebook, there is also a way to prevent this information from being collected.
All you need to do is switch to a browser that automatically detects and disable web trackers (like Firefox).
Once you do this, Facebook and all other companies' trackers will be disabled as you browse on the web.
Most of the aforementioned changes are also applicable to the Facebook app, but the program does mine some additional data, including the Wi-Fi networks you're connected to, the phone you use and the other apps you have.
There is no way to stop this, but you can restrict it by heading over to Settings and blocking Facebook's access to location, contacts, camera, and more.
While Facebook controls limit how your data is used by advertisers, there is little-to-no control to stop this information collection in the first place - both direct and indirect.
This leaves two options: either you ditch Facebook and never look back or follow these steps and restrict sharing personal, potentially-identifying information.
Not using Facebook to log into apps/websites will also help the case.
Love Science news?
Subscribe to stay updated.