Facebook data-gathering | Binoculars with Facebook logos in the lenses

As Meta faces increasing legal scrutiny over Facebook data-gathering to serve personalized ads, its latest tactic is to claim that a feature is really intended to help users …

Meta has been facing a growing legal problem. The company makes most of its money from personalized ads, which of course rely on sucking up as much personal data as possible to determine which ads to display.

But that business model is under threat from EU legislation, which requires people to be given the choice about whether or not to have their personal data used in that way. Meta’s data-gathering is also under scrutiny by other countries.

In the EU, one way the company is fighting back is by offering ad-free subscriptions, though some have expressed doubts that this is enough to comply with the law.

Gizmodo spotted that the company is now trying a new tactic: Pretending that a new way to gather data on users is really for your benefit.

Facebook recently rolled out a new “Link History” setting that creates a special repository of all the links you click on in the Facebook mobile app. Users can opt-out, but Link History is turned on by default, and the data is used for targeted ads […]

The company pitches Link History as a useful tool for consumers “with your browsing activity saved in one place,” rather than another way to keep tabs on your behavior. With the new setting you’ll “never lose a link again,” Facebook says in a pop-up encouraging users to consent to the new tracking method. The company goes on to mention that “When you allow link history, we may use your information to improve your ads across Meta technologies.”

How to opt out

Here’s Facebook’s instructions for opting out:

  1. Tap any link inside the Facebook app to open Facebook’s Mobile Browser.
  2. Tap more actions in the bottom right, then tap Browser settings
  3. To turn link history on, tap switch off next to Allow link history, then tap Allow to confirm. 
  4. To turn link history off, tap switch on next to Allow link history, then tap Don’t allow to confirm. Note: When you turn link history off, we will immediately clear your link history and you will no longer be able to see any links that you’ve visited. Additionally, we won’t save your link history or use it to improve your ads across Meta technologies.

The company notes that the ‘feature’ is rolling out gradually, so you may not see it yet. If you don’t, the same place will offer you the option to clear your existing Facebook browsing history.

Photo: Glen Carrie/Unsplash

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PSA: Here’s a Facebook data-gathering tool you’ll want to disable – 9to5Mac

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PSA: Here’s a Facebook data-gathering tool you’ll want to disable – 9to5Mac

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