Consumer Reports: Stop Facebook from tracking you

With more and more of us home, it's tempting to spend more time on social media.

But you should know that Facebook tracks us, even when we're not on Facebook.

The company receives a constant stream of information about what we do online and even where we go in the real world.

It gets all sorts of information about Consumer Reports Tech editor, Thomas Germain -- from dozens of different apps and websites.

"OK Cupid...some details about my dating life...there's Uber, AT&T...Lifehacker.com, ZocDoc. There's all kinds of personal information here that you might not realize is being sent to the company," said Germain.

Not surprisingly, people are concerned about where that data goes.

Something the company's founder and CEO once addressed on Capitol Hill when he vowed to protect people's data following the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal

"I think everyone should have control over how their information is used," said Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

Fortunately, Consumer Reports found some ways to limit that oversharing.

About a month ago, Facebook introduced what it calls "Off-Facebook Activity" settings... and Consumer Reports has been taking a close look.

"What Facebook ultimately decided to do was give you a menu where you could see the last six months of updates that the company has received from third parties. You can also go in and use a tool called "clear history. That doesn't actually delete your information but it disconnects it from your account," says Germain.

And there's no way to stop the company from collecting your "Off-Facebook" data in the first place.

But for some peace of mind, there is a way to limit what Facebook does with any new data going forward.

"There's another setting called "Manage Future Activity" and if you use this, you can essentially keep your history cleared by default. Other companies will keep sending Facebook information, but they won't be able to use it for targeted advertising and they won't keep it tied to your account," says Germain.

But, turning off this setting will disable the Facebook Login tool, which lets you sign in to other apps and websites using your Facebook credentials.

"So, in a way, you are trading privacy for convenience, but for you, that might be worth it," says Germain.
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