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How to stop Facebook from tracking your every move


Facebook knows a lot about you. There are several ways to limit this amount of information.

Facebook tracks (almost) every activity you take. For example, it looks at the pages that you visit on the Internet, while remaining active in your profile on the site. This information helps grow the company’s advertising business, which continues to grow even during the coronavirus pandemic.

For the most complete understanding of what Facebook can and cannot do with your data, see the company’s " Privacy Policy ". However, taking into account all subheadings, paragraphs and references, this document consists of 4500 words. To be honest, few people read it to the end. So instead, we’ll look at the most important aspects of how Facebook tracks its users, why it collects this data, and what you can do to change that.

See also: How to delete search history and get rid of Google tracking

First, all your activities on Facebook are tracked. This is not surprising, moreover, it is standard practice for all applications and websites that you use. Every profile you view, photo you like, and group you visit will be recorded by the company. Facebook knows who you message the most and the person whose messages you never open. It uses this information about you to do a number of things – and not all of them are advertisements.

Facebook may use your personal information to detect inappropriate behavior. He can understand why the application crashes and use the recorded unwanted behavior to fix his own code. The company is also able to identify suspicious login attempts to your profile and understand if other users’ accounts are being spammed. There is also a personalization process, i.e. Facebook may recommend certain groups or potential friends to you based on the information it collects about you.

However, Facebook is not just one social network. Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Oculus are all products that can safely collect information about you because they are owned by Facebook. As stated on the company’s website, all social networks and instant messengers "share infrastructure, information and data obtained to improve technology." Facebook is also capable of tracking and blocking accounts that spam WhatsApp.

What sets Facebook apart from most other companies is how it tracks your activities when you’re not using the social networks and messengers it owns. The company’s technologies extend to millions of websites and applications that you use. Facebook may use the information we have to get more information about which types of ads you are more likely to click on. The more information a company collects about you, the more specific and personalized ads can be. As such, Facebook may charge advertisers extra for this.

Facebook can only track your behavior if you do not uninstall the Facebook app from your phone and stop using sites on the Internet where its tools are present. However, there are several ways to limit what information Facebook collects about you, or at least control what is sent to the system that delivers ads.

Delete personal information and activity history on the site

If you want to take back control of the situation, you need to understand what information you provide to Facebook. Everything you ever did on Facebook, including in groups, news feed, on your personal page, can be tracked on the About You page.

There are 18 different categories of information you provide to Facebook. This is what you have uploaded, shared, or added to the site. If you have been an active Facebook user for more than 10 years, you will see your life in pictures and with detailed information about it.

There are several ways to manage this information in order to limit its disclosure to the company: by clicking on each of the categories, you will see a log of activities. For example, information about your groups will be shown every time you joined or left a particular community. By hovering over an item in the activity log, you can delete it. However, this only works for one item at a time – there is no way to delete all comments you left in 2009.

Facebook collects not only 18 categories of information that you share with it, but also 6 more types of personal information about you. They are all listed at the bottom of the information page. These include: advertising and business data, search history, security information, location, information related to changes to your account, and voice input. The About You tab will also give you information about what Facebook thinks of your friends.

You cannot delete all information about yourself, but there are some steps you can take. You can delete your search history, including the videos you searched for. View all resources where you are logged in via Facebook and force logout. This is especially true of other people’s computers and phones.

Check your contacts and face recognition feature

Perhaps the two most important things you should change in your settings are allowing Facebook to access your phone’s contacts and turning on facial recognition. Both of these features let the company know who you value and spend time with.

This page will show you the contact details of people you know. Their data was downloaded from your phone or other devices. Facebook says that by uploading this data from your phone, you could provide any aliases of people important to you or inaccurate information about them.

You can delete downloaded contact data, but to really take control of this area of ​​information, you need to stop continuously downloading contacts. This is done elsewhere (follow the instructions provided here ). There are a few important things to keep in mind about stopping sharing contacts you upload from your devices: You must change the settings on each individual phone or tablet that you use to log in to Facebook. Turning off the automatic download of contacts on Facebook will not turn off this feature in the Messenger app.

Also Read: Windows 10 Privacy Settings You Need to Change Urgently

You should also check if Facebook face recognition is enabled in the settings. When enabled, Facebook automatically scans images to recognize your face and tells you when you are in a photo or video. This feature has replaced the photo tagging option.

Turn off location tracking

Facebook also tracks your location. This is primarily done using your phone or tablet, which may have GPS enabled. Depending on your phone’s settings, you can choose to limit Facebook’s access to your exact location only when you’re using the app, or select the "Never track" option. These settings can be found in iOS or Android permissions. However, it’s worth saying that there is also a feature within Facebook itself that allows you to turn location tracking on or off. What’s more, you can view " Location History " which will show you where you have been and at what point in time it happened.

Despite disabling Facebook’s location tracking, the company still knows a lot about where you are. The IP address of your phone or browser also tells Facebook approximately your location. Obviously, if someone else tags you in a particular location, that information is also available to Facebook.

Limit ads from Facebook

The Advertising Preferences section will give you a complete picture of what Facebook really knows about you, beyond what you’ve already shared with it. This page represents the unity of all your interests ; companies with which you have shared your contact details; mechanisms of how advertising is shown in principle.

The Interests section lists topics that Facebook thinks you’re interested in, such as brands and specific topics such as " law ". How did Facebook get it? The information is based on what you do on Facebook and the pages and ads you view. You can uncheck any of these categories by clicking the cross in the upper right corner of each topic.

It also contains information about the companies with which you have shared your contact details. If you join a specific brand’s mailing list or provided your contact details when purchasing a product, then it’s highly likely that the company will add you to their database. This can be used in Facebook ads as well. Companies that add you to their lists may make sure that certain ads are shown to you that are of interest to you, or they (in some cases) may be able to stop their ads from showing because you are already a subscriber to them. There is a View Items option that allows you to limit the actions that companies that have received information about you can take.

Perhaps the best way to control the ads shown to you is to change the settings in the Your Information section of the ads page. This section allows advertisers to show you ads based on specific facts about you. Thus, ad serving is based on your marital status, job title, company you work for, and educational level. Disabling this feature may stop you from showing ads related to very personal aspects of your life.

Other settings let you control the ads you see based on the data Facebook receives from other companies and users on the web (such as Instagram and WhatsApp). You can opt out of this tracking and choose not to save your browsing history for future display of products and ads on Facebook. To restrict ads from being shown, you can select the " Forbidden " option in the settings.

Control what happens outside of Facebook

Facebook, as already mentioned, does not just collect information about what you do on the site itself. Its advertising campaign also collects information from other websites and applications that you use.

Apps that you use in your daily life may share data about you with Facebook if trackers are installed on them. For example, the " Ring Doorbell " app sends data to Facebook for their analytics later. “When you use third-party apps, websites, or other services that are integrated with our products, we may receive information about what you post or share ," Facebook says in its Privacy Policy.

If you want to restrict access to applications that are directly integrated with Facebook, you can see where you are logged in and end active sessions. Be aware that this means you may have to sign in to other services such as Spotify using a new username and password. It is still worth making sure that all data remains safe before you take this step.

Facebook also receives information from other websites. This mainly happens in three ways: through the Facebook Pixel, the Facebook Share button, and the Facebook Like button. The operation of these tracking systems is very similar. Code from Facebook products is embedded on other websites and collects data about you.

The Facebook Pixel is hidden from the eyes of users, unlike the "Share" and "Like" buttons. A pixel is a tiny piece of code that can be added to websites and works like cookies: it assigns an ID to the user who visits the site and collects information about the pages they have visited. Every user has a Facebook ID. It is tied either to your account or to the devices you use.

Facebook tools are everywhere. The company showed just how widely used the Facebook Pixel and Share buttons were in 2018 during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In April of that year, there were about 8.4 million websites using the "Like" button and another one million resources that had a "Share" button. 2.2 million websites have added a Facebook Pixel to their code. It’s hard to tell exactly what web pages these tools are on, but given that most major websites use tracking tools, it’s fair to assume that almost every resource you visit on a regular basis has them.

There are several ways to keep your data under control. It is possible to block ads based on the data collected by Facebook, as mentioned earlier. This does not mean that data collection will stop, but you will not be shown ads based on your behavior.

Facebook also provides the option to "delete" your off-site activity: this includes information that companies have shared with Facebook. However, there is one caveat. Information will continue to be collected and shared with advertisers for another 48 hours. When the tools are disabled, the data will not be completely erased from Facebook, but simply disaggregated in its system.

If you really want to limit the collection of information about your online activity, you need to change your behavior. Using a privacy browser that blocks cookies and trackers is the most effective solution to stop online tracking.

Download your data and delete Facebook

If you decide you’re fed up with Facebook, you can simply uninstall its apps from your devices and log out. Sometimes it’s even good to take a break. But if you want to completely stop using the platform, you can always delete your account. Before you do that, you must download all of your data, which includes your posts, photos, group information, and more. Then you can safely delete Facebook.