How do you know about yourself

Here's how to find out how Facebook knows so much about you

Why does Facebook always seem to know exactly which topics are on your mind? For example, if you talk to friends about a planned vacation and then see advertisements for it a short time later. Does the company tap into the microphones of smartphones and computers? This theory has persisted for years, but Facebook has already denied it several times. Now the company wants to shed more light on the matter and shows how to get information about the users.

"Activities outside of Facebook"

On Tuesday, the company released a new tool that shows how information about a Facebook user is shared. The tool can be found under Settings and Privacy - Settings - Activities outside of Facebook. Specifically, information is displayed here that, for example, website operators collect about a user and pass it on to Facebook.

Facebook explains this using an example. "Tanja buys a pair of shoes in a clothing store online. He uses our business tools and sends us information about Tanja's activities. We receive information about Tanja's activities outside of Facebook and save it in her Facebook account. The activities are saved as 'has visited the clothing website' and 'has made a purchase'. Tanja sees an advertisement on Facebook with a 10% discount voucher on her next purchase in the online store. "

Of course, this is not limited to online shopping sites. For example, hotel offers can be displayed on Facebook after visiting a travel portal. And the advertisement does not necessarily have to relate to the particular page visited. Anyone who has bought sportswear on the Internet, for example, may then be shown the information about a suitable sporting event.

History can be deleted

In addition to this information, Facebook now gives its users the option of deleting the history of these activities. However, this only means that advertisements tailored to these activities will no longer be displayed. Third-party companies continue to transmit information about the user to Facebook. To personalize the advertising, the activities are then displayed directly on Facebook - for example when you like a page.

However, users can also decide about future activities outside of Facebook (to be found in the aforementioned settings menu under "Additional options"). The same applies here: Users can only deactivate the link between the information and their account here. You can't stop websites from collecting and forwarding information about someone.

The new tool is now available to all users worldwide. Facebook had been working on it for a long time, said Mark Zuckerberg in a blog post on Tuesday. It allows a new "level of transparency and control". Users are currently being advised in their news feed to control their privacy settings. The fact that there is the new "Activities outside of Facebook" tool is apparently not mentioned separately. This is also relatively well hidden in the settings. (br, January 29, 2020)