Facebook Tries to Get More Transparent With New 'Off-Facebook Activity' Tool

The new tool allows users to disconnect their profiles from third-party sites and apps from which Facebook receives personal data.
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Facebook is opening up a bit more on how to delete some of your data. 

The social media giant launched a new "Off-Facebook Activity" tool, which is intended to give users more control over the information Facebook receives about their activity on other websites and apps. Facebook (FB) - Get Report shares were up 2.27% to $222.73 ahead of its fourth quarter earnings release on Wednesday. 

As explained in a blog post by Facebook, the tool allows you to disconnect or delete the data Facebook receives from those third-party sites or organizations. Some of these may surprise users. For example, this author found 25 third parties currently sharing information with Facebook, ranging from well-known apps like PayPal's (PYPL) - Get Report Venmo to a small art supply store I apparently made a purchase from in the last few months. 

Deleting the activity will not affect the number of ads you see, but "the ads that you will see may be less personalized to you," according to Facebook. 

The new tool is part of a push by Facebook -- partly in response to ongoing privacy concerns, and partly owing to new legislation -- to appear more transparent in how they use data. 

California's recently enacted Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) requires companies to make greater disclosures on what personal information is collected, and for what purpose. It also allows consumers to request that their information be deleted.

A Facebook spokesperson told TheStreet that self-serve tools, such as the "Off-Facebook Activity" deletion tool, are part of its effort to comply with CCPA. 

The company appears to be pushing back on other aspects of CCPA -- namely, restrictions on the sale of personal data. 

Through a tool called Pixel, Facebook also tracks users' activities on the broader web in order to sharpen its ad targeting capabilities. Facebook has told partners, however, that it doesn't need to change this practice under CCPA on the argument that it doesn't constitute a "sale" of data. 

Facebook is due to report its latest earnings today after the close of trading.