Facebook users are given the option to disconnect the information that the company collects via other apps and websites from their account. This means that hyper-personalized advertisements are a thing of the past, but only for consumers who actively resist it.
Almost everyone will find it familiar: you visit an online store somewhere on the internet looking for new sports shoes from a certain brand. A moment later you log in to Facebook and, yes, there appears an advertisement of exactly those sneakers. Of course, that is no coincidence: Facebook flawlessly knows which sites you visit, which apps you use and what you are looking for within them.
Facebook will now give users the option to view information collected by the company through other apps and websites and – if desired – disconnect from their account. Mark Zuckerberg promised a year and a half ago that his company would come up with such a new privacy tool (called Off-Facebook Activity). The fact that it all took much longer, according to Facebook, has to do with the complexity of the operation.
Starting in Ireland, South Korea and Spain (other countries must follow “the coming months”) Facebook is now delivering on its promise. The company has been using various methods to track its users for many years. This can be done via the like button that is placed on sites, but also via so-called pixels. These are invisible images that site administrators place on their sites to satisfy their advertisers – and Facebook. It is a practice in which almost everything sites (including those of the Volkskrant) participate, but which has only been known to the general public for a year or two.
Arnold Roosendaal, director of the Privacy Company, calls it “a nice step” that Facebook is now transparent about what information the company collects from its users. “I expect that many people who view the information will be shocked at how detailed and rich the dataset is about their internet behavior and about the use of all kinds of apps.” was a follow button, however, has some reservations.
“The initiative to look at the information and to disconnect it from his account lies with the user. He therefore has to actively work to adjust settings and cancel something that he has never consciously opted for, “says Roosendaal.
As far as he is concerned, it should be the other way around: only if someone explicitly states that he wants his surfing behavior to be analyzed in order to get targeted advertisements, Facebook can do that.
Furthermore, Roosendaal has difficulty with the fact that the information is disconnected from the profile, but is still being collected.
“Facebook stores it anonymously, but I have my doubts about that anonymity. The data is not actively linked to an account, but I expect that the data will still be compiled at the individual level. “
Facebook itself says that it could have “some consequences” for its revenue, but it is more important that users have control over their own data. At the same time, the company also states that following consumers in order to be able to offer targeted advertisements “that’s just how the Internet works.” In any case, Facebook had little choice, because the company is under the magnifying glass with the authorities, both in Europe and in its home country.