Audrey McNamara – CBS News
Facebook unveiled a new tool on Tuesday that lets users see how much — and what — data about them other apps are sharing with the social media behemoth. The “Off-Facebook Activity” tool was announced in a company blog post written by Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, as a way to give users “more control” over their privacy.
“As of today, our Off-Facebook Activity tool is available to people on Facebook around the world,” Zuckerberg wrote in the post. “Other businesses send us information about your activity on their sites and we use that information to show you ads that are relevant to you. Now you can see a summary of that information and clear it from your account if you want to.”
With the new tool, Facebook’s nearly 2 billion users can access a list of websites and apps that have shared their information with the site. Users can then download and browse the information collected on them. This wealth of personal data could help users understand how and why Facebook and other large data firms target them.
According to Facebook, the tool will allow people to “disconnect” the mined information from their account, as well as disconnect any “future off-Facebook activity.”
The tool’s rollout comes after the landmark Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018. Through an unprecedented leak, the U.K.-based political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica obtained the private information, largely collected through third-party apps, of tens of millions of Facebook users. The firm then used that information to help clients, including the 2016 Trump campaign, analyze voters and target them with ads.
News of the leak was the first time many Facebook users realized the platform was gathering information about them even when they weren’t actively using the site.
“You should be able to easily understand and manage your information, which is why strengthening your privacy controls is so important,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We’ll have more to share as we continue to make progress on this important work in the decade ahead.”