Facebook is rolling out a new feature to its Android app that lets you stop the company from tracking your location even when you’re not using the app.
In fact, in Europe, Facebook has received repeated warnings about user tracking. A Belgian court even threatened them with a €250,000 daily fine until they changed their tracking practices.
This is a function that’s already built into iPhones, which let you limit whether an app can track you any time, only when you’re using it or never.
Facebook uses your location information to target ads, show you nearby events and to identify where you’re logging in from. Also, it stores a copy of your precise location data. You have to manually enable Location History for Facebook to track you in the first place. But you may have done this if you’ve ever used a feature like location tagging for photos.
How Does Facebook Track You?
The millions of Facebook “Like” and “Share” buttons added to seemingly every website funnel web browsing data into the Facebook advertising algorithm. Consequently, the types of sites you visit away from Facebook will fine-tune the ads shown to you inside the social media site, as well as its other services.
Furthermore, each site with a Facebook button places an individual cookie on your computer. Along with the “normal” tracking information, this file can contain your individual Facebook id number. And even if you’re signed out of Facebook, the tracking id contained in the cookie will inform the mothership of your internet location.
Facebook also owns a number of other popular services. Remember when Facebook bought WhatsApp? How about when it bought Instagram? Users of those services may feel like they’re posting data in a separate social bubble, but it all feeds back into the same Facebook ad algorithm. WhatsApp users can actually turn data sharing off. Instagram users aren’t so lucky.
Why Is Facebook Tracking Me?
Advertising and money. They go hand in hand. Internet users are by now used to tracking technology. We’re tracked around the internet by numerous advertising companies, all making use of magical cookies.
In addition, your data, regardless of user status, helps to increase their actionable advertising target data. It is win-win for Facebook. Concise data that their business account holders can make better use of. Unfortunately tracking and advertising are central to the modern internet.
How to Stop Facebook From Tracking You?
Did this article get your interest? Good. Here’s how you stop Facebook tracking you around the internet. Moreover, beside Facebook there are many tracking applications that you need to avoid getting tracked by them.
1. Sign out of Facebook on desktop
Click the “Menu” icon in the upper-right side of the page. Then click Log Out. You can always sign back in later, but it’s good to get into a habit of signing out of Facebook whenever you’re done.
If your browser asks you to save your Facebook login information, decline. This will prevent Facebook from automatically logging you in not only on your current browser but on mobile versions of that browser as well.
2. Delete the Facebook app from your phone
The Facebook mobile app can track things such as your location and your mobile browsing habits. So it’s best to delete it if you want to prevent the largest possible amount of tracking. You can delete apps on iPhone and Android platforms.
Facebook has been accused of using mobile items’ microphones to determine which ads and services are relevant to users, though these claims are largely unfounded.
3. Revoke app permissions for Facebook
If you’ve ever signed into Spotify or Pinterest (or any other app or service) with your Facebook account, the app in question probably allows Facebook to access your data. You can revoke this permission on the desktop version of Facebook:
- Go to https://www.facebook.com/ and sign in if necessary
- Click the “Menu” icon
- Tap “Settings”
- Click “Apps and Websites”
- Check the box next to every app on this page
- Click “Remove” in the upper-right side of the page
- Click “Remove” when prompted.
4. Consider using your browser’s Incognito mode for Facebook
When visiting Facebook in Incognito mode, your browsing history won’t be saved upon exiting the browser. And Facebook will remain logged out in your browser’s normal windows.
This is a decent work-around for people who want to continue using Facebook without having to worry about tracking.
5. Clear your browser cookies
One of the ways in which Facebook tracks your browsing history is by planting tracking files on your computer. Like every other site you visit. You can remove these files by clearing the cookies from every browser on your computer, smartphone, or tablet.
One negative side effect of deleting cookies is that you will be signed out of most online services, and your saved information. For example, your passwords, website preferences, etc. will be erased from the browser’s stored data.
6. Never use your Facebook account to sign into a service
Some services allow you to sign in using your Facebook profile information. While this makes the sign-up process relatively easy, it also means that Facebook can monitor your use of the service in question. Including things like how long you use the service, what items or options you select in the service, and more.
7. Don’t use Facebook’s check-in feature
Checking into a physical location on Facebook provides Facebook with a ton of information. Such as location data, that you probably don’t want them to have.
8. Avoid using Facebook “Like” and “Share” buttons
You’ll see options to add a Facebook “Like” or share Facebook content all over the Internet; unfortunately, doing so only adds to the heap of your information that Facebook already has.
The same goes for adding Facebook comments to sites which support this feature.
9. Opt out of targeted ads
The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) offers an online tool that you can use to request that companies don’t use your data to deliver targeted advertising. You’ll need to do this in every browser in which you visit Facebook:
- Go to http://optout.aboutads.info/?c=2#!/ in your preferred browser.
- Wait for the opt-out wheel to finish loading.
- Click “CONTINUE”
- Click “OPT OUT OF ALL”
- Allow the website’s opt-out requests to finish.