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article imageOp-Ed: The very useful ‘Off Facebook Activity’ settings you need to see

By Paul Wallis     Jan 26, 2021 in Internet
Sydney - Much criticism of Facebook is about the sheer quantity of data it absorbs about user activities. In a much-underpublicized way, Facebook has a way of fixing some issues with “Off Facebook Activity” settings.
I wasn’t at all aware of these settings. I think I vaguely remember some too-simple press comment like “we’re fixing it” years ago. Exactly the sort of comment which doesn’t tell you anything like enough, delivered to online media who don’t usually listen.
Anyway – I found the setting; this is how to access it.
Hit Settings > Your Facebook Information > Off Facebook Activity > Manage your off Facebook activity.
You’ll get a list of things you will instantly recognize and many you don’t. I got 1164 specific activities, going back to at least 2019. Some of this data related to things and sites I’ve literally hit one or two times in years.
I wasn’t too happy about some of those sites. I spend a lot of time online. I’ve been hacked, and it was messy and expensive to fix. I try to keep a very quiet profile. (I would point out in fairness that the hacked site didn’t show up on off Facebook activities, but you can see why it would be a sensitive subject.)
So I scrolled down and onwards. Sure enough, there were a few I really didn’t want at all visible. Scrolling, however, can be monotonous. There were quite a few totally irrelevant one-off things. Too many, in fact.
The easy fix to scrolling a list is CTRL+F, or “Find”. Just enter what you’re looking for. I got the site I was most worried about instantly. I turned off the activity.
****The “Some of your activity may not appear here” link is also worth reading. This applies to most recent activity, which you could predict or at least guess what it is. Wait a while, say a week, and go back to Off Facebook settings to check out what’s new.
Important, please note: You can turn off Off Facebook Activity, but then you have no idea at all what information is being gathered, which is why I’d recommend against it on principle. You can also clear the entire history, another option.
A few suggestions for Facebook
Scrolling gave me a few things for me to think about:
1. Much of the information had no commercial potential at all. My interest in a vast majority of those sites was marginal at best. So how useful is the data?
2. Any site which relates to things people would usually consider private should be out of that list. Financial, health, and similar matters, including possible DOX info, shouldn’t be visible to anyone.
3. How to control your Facebook data should be front and center for all users. It’s a big issue globally, and needs to be treated as a big issue. That means a clear effort to make user options unavoidably easy to find.
4. I’d also point out that Facebook can do what it’s actually able to do, not necessarily what the purists want it to do whether possible or not. User databases naturally accumulate a lot of data, and that data can be hacked. Some information on Off Facebook activity could be used as clues for stalkers, etc.
The good news is that Off Facebook activity is easy to access and easy to use. Strongly recommended for all Facebook users as a benchmark for what’s accessed.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about off facebook activity, facebook privacy, managing facebook accounts, facebook privacy policies, facebook user security and privacy
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