Take control of your online privacy with Facebook's new privacy setting

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) — We are well aware that businesses and marketers use social media to influence consumers, but there are ways to limit what data from outside the Facebook app Facebook is able to use.

It's called Off-Facebook Activity. This tracker erases Facebook's tracking of what you search on Google or other websites to make sure it won't be collected by digital marketers.

Julie Wheeler, with the Better Business Bureau in Roanoke, said that with this new option, now is the perfect time to evaluate your entire online presence.

"It's time to do that privacy check-up," she said. "Kind of like how you change the batteries in your smoke alarm, it's a great time to get that credit report and also check your privacy settings on your social media accounts or any of your online accounts."

Marketers love social media because of the easy and immediate access they have to their consumers, though many consumers don't realize what rights to their privacy they can actually give away with a single click.

"The thing to remember is when you do those surveys, you're providing information that's in use for marketing," Wheeler said. "You wonder why those ads pop up? It's because they have tagged something you've looked at or something you've responded to or something that you've put that you like and that information comes in."

In January 2020, Facebook rolled out its new Off-Facebook Activity tracker.

According to Facebook, "Control is important to you, especially when it comes to your data. Which is why you’re seeing changes in how you view and manage your information on Facebook."

You might not have realized that even when you're not on the website or have opened the app, your search history is still being collected through Facebook.

"That information is kept and tracked and definitely affects what you see when you're browsing or on the different apps," Wheeler said.

This new option stops what marketers see when you're on other websites, giving you back control of your privacy. However, your privacy check-up isn't just about distancing yourself from advertisers.

There are more than 1 billion people on Facebook and more than 100 million active users on Instagram. Our world is on display through our social media accounts, and the Better Business Bureau wants you to take a good hard look at who's watching what you do.

"One of the things that Facebook has put into place is a privacy check-up that pops in your news feed that you can actually click and go to your account and look at your settings," Wheeler said.

Through the check-up, you can dictate who can see your account, what information other people can see on your account and what devices have access to your account.

"I think over 80 percent of the people don't feel like they have any privacy," Wheeler said.

And though we might think some privacy tips are common sense, the BBB says there's always room to be stricter on our online profiles.

"You don't want to friend people you don't know," Wheeler suggested. "That's one that people just want to have 2,000 friends so I'm just going to go out and invite anybody whether you know them or not."

You also need to closely monitor what you post and what's posted about you.

"Crooks set up fake profiles and get people to like them and then you know, you're just setting yourself up for future problems," Wheeler said.

In March 2019, Facebook's founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg published Facebook's commitment to improving privacy and security.

Google has also committed to getting rid of third party cookies by 2022 which will prevent advertisers and marketers from gaining access to your information.

You can find out how to change your privacy setting on Facebook by clicking here.

You can find out how to change your privacy setting on Instagram by clicking here.

You can find out how to change your privacy setting on Twitter by clicking here.

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