Facebook unveils tool to stop it from tracking you online

Facebook said its users will soon be able to stop it from following them around the internet and tracking what they do.

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The social media giant is gradually rolling out a feature that will let users see and control the data Facebook collects during what it calls “off-Facebook activity.” Users will be able to see a summary of the information other apps and websites have sent Facebook, clear the information from their accounts and turn off future data gathering for all off-Facebook activity or specific sources.

Users who disconnect their off-Facebook activity won’t stop seeing ads on the site. The company said the ads that show up “may be less personalized.”

Also, Facebook said it’s not actually deleting the data that users disconnect from their accounts. Instead, it will be used “without being linked to an individual user” so businesses can see how their ads are performing.

The change will affect Facebook, Messenger and Instagram, the company said.

“We expect this could have some impact on our business, but we believe giving people control over their data is more important,” the company wrote in a blog post.

It’s not clear exactly how soon U.S. Facebook users will have access to the new tool. The company said it will first make the feature available to people in Ireland, South Korea and Spain before rolling it out elsewhere.

Facebook is giving users the new privacy tool after the Federal Trade Commission approved a $5 billion settlement with the company last month over its data privacy practices. Officials started a probe into the company after Facebook admitted last year that the British data firm Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed users’ personal information. The settlement also reportedly requires Facebook to adhere to government guidelines for users’ data privacy.

As the company has reacted to users’ complaints about privacy, Facebook has also emphasized its private groups and direct messages.

But even as Facebook works to deal with privacy issues, it may face more issues from regulators. The FTC has been investigating antitrust issues related to the company, as have a group of state attorneys general reportedly working on an antitrust probe into several big tech companies.

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