Sun | Sep 15, 2019

Facebook rolls out tool to block data gathering

Published:Tuesday | August 20, 2019 | 11:21 AM
In this July 30, 2019, file photo, the social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store. Facebook is launching a long-promised tool that lets users block the social network from gathering information about them on outside websites and apps. (AP Photo/Amr Alfiky)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Soon, you could get fewer familiar ads following you around the internet — or at least on Facebook.

Facebook is launching a long-promised tool that lets you block the social network from gathering information about you on outside websites and apps.

The company said Tuesday that it is adding a section where you can see the activity that Facebook tracks outside its service via its “like” buttons and other means.

You can choose to turn off the tracking; otherwise, tracking will continue the same way it has been.

Formerly known as “clear history,” the tool will now go by the somewhat awkward name “off-Facebook activity.”

The feature will be available in South Korea, Ireland and Spain on Tuesday, consistent with Facebook’s tendency to launch features in smaller markets first.

The company did not give a timeline for when it might expand it to the U.S. and other countries, only that it will be in “coming months.”

Blocking the tracking, which is on by default, could mean fewer ads that seem familiar — for example, for a pair of shoes you decided not to buy, or a nonprofit you donated money to.

It won’t change the actual number of ads you’ll see on Facebook.

Facebook faces increasing governmental scrutiny over its privacy practices, including a record $5 billion fine from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for mishandling user data.

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