Technology

How to Finally Stop Facebook From Tracking You Online

Put an end to those ads that feel like they're reading your mind a little too well.

Tags:

How often do you find yourself scrolling through social media and coming across ads that honestly kind of creep you out. You might have scrolled a few sites looking for a new pair of earrings and suddenly find yourself showered in ads for similar ones. Even worse, it can really feel like they’re inside your brain when you just think about something and see it pop up on your feed. That level of personalization can put you off actually purchasing something, even if you want it.

You probably won’t be too surprised to learn it all boils down to the ever-watchful eye known as Facebook. Basically, they’re tracking us even when we aren’t on their site or using one of their apps, like Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp. The idea is to generate ads that fit your personal needs, but it can often feel like more like an invasion of privacy.

Recently, however, Facebook allowed us to take more control over how closely they monitor our time online. You can start by clicking here to check out your Off-Facebook Activity.

You should see a page that looks like this:

Screencap of Off-Facebook Activity page
Facebook

From there, you can immediately click on the “Clear History” option on the righthand side, which will give you this prompt:

Screencap of Off-Facebook Activity page
Facebook

As they explain, doing this won’t give you any fewer ads or disconnect them from tracking your activity while using your Facebook account, but will make them less personalized. It might also log out you out of other accounts linked to your profile.

If you want more info, you can click on “Manage Your Off-Facebook Activity” instead. You’ll be able to see exactly how many websites you’ve visited that have funneled information back into Facebook:

Screencap of Off-Facebook Activity page
Facebook

This obviously varies per user, but can definitely shed light on why it seems like Facebook is able to read your mind. Most of us will have hundreds of sites listed.

You can click into each one to individually stop it from tracking you in the future, or click on “Manage Future Activity” in the righthand menu to turn them all off at once.

Screencap of Off-Facebook Activity page
Facebook

If you decide to flip that little blue toggle, you’ll see a similar prompt to the one before warning you about how your social media surfing will (and won’t) change.

Screencap of Off-Facebook Activity page
Facebook

Again, you’ll still get the same amount, but it won’t feel like they were plucked from your head. You also might be logged out of connected accounts, so be sure you know those passwords before opting out of off-site activity tracking.

On top of this type of tracking, you can also click here to look at your Ad Settings and turn off ads based on partner data.

Screencap of Facebook ad settings
Facebook

With all of those settings applied, you should notice significantly less creepy ads on your social media feeds like Facebook and Instagram. Note: This doesn’t affect ads on other platforms, like websites, but should at least minimize the feeling of constantly being watched.

Now you’ll be back to online shopping the old fashioned way, without Facebook’s recommendations.

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.