Remember almost two years ago when Facebook promised it’d give users the ability to delete the browsing history it uses to serve personalized ads? After the most leisurely rollout of all time, it’s finally here.
Facebook flipped the switch and made the “Off-Facebook Activity” menu available to all on Tuesday. Users in some countries, including Ireland and South Korea, had it since last August, but now it’s available to everyone.
So, what is it, exactly? First of all, you can find it in the settings menu of the Facebook mobile app right now. Here’s what that looks like:
Once you’re there, it’s honestly pretty self-explanatory. If you want to manage your off-Facebook activity, you’ll get a list of every website and app that Facebook tracks when you’re not actually using Facebook. It’s still shady and weird that Facebook does that at all, but now you know exactly when, how, and how many times it harvested data from those sites and apps.
If you just want to be rid all of that data, there’s a big ol’ “Clear History” button right there. Facebook warns that doing this might log you out of services you use Facebook to log into, like Spotify, but you can just log in again. It’ll also keep harvesting data from those sites going forward unless you specifically opt out, which is another option in the “Manage Future Activity” part of the menu.
Should you choose to turn off data collection, Facebook says you’ll still see the same number of ads as before, but they’ll be less personalized. There’s also one major catch to this: The data is merely “disconnected” from your account, rather than fully deleted from Facebook’s servers. At least, that’s what Facebook said in August.
Even if it’s not a perfect solution to Facebook’s intensely creepy and unnecessary data collection practices, it’s at least nice to have some transparency about what the service knows about you. You might be better off deleting Facebook entirely, but if not, you should consider uncoupling your browsing habits from its clutches.