Facebook launches ‘Link History’ tool to combat privacy regulations

Facebook has launched a new ‘Link History’ tool that allows users to record the links they click on.

New tech and privacy regulations have been clamping down on so-called data harvesting from companies such as Meta – which owns Facebook – Google and Apple. This new tool, turned on by default, is seemingly a move to continue tracking users’ behavior, both on and off their platforms. This data will subsequently be used for targeted ads.

Meta was fined by EU regulators last year for effectively forcing users to consent to targeted ads, meaning their products were off-limits to anyone who didn’t agree to their activity being tracked and data being shared with advertisers.

The social media giant’s new ‘Link History’ tool seeks to address that by giving users the ability to opt out of having their link clicks recorded. However, the feature only currently appears to be active on Facebook’s app, meaning it’s currently unclear whether using Facebook on a computer or directly within a web browser protects users from having their links tracked.

Facebook has always kept a record of links users click on, only now they’re simply giving users visibility of that data. It’s not clear whether opting out of Link History means users are also opting out of having their online activity tracked regardless. Facebook does say, though, that “when you allow link history, we may use your information to improve your ads across Meta technologies.”

Meta uses all of their products, including Instagram and WhatsApp, to track what users are doing away from their owned and operated platforms. Millions of companies around the world who want to advertise on Meta’s platforms must add a tracking tool called ‘Meta Pixel’ to their websites. This essentially allows Meta to keep a close eye on the user’s online behavior at all times, with that data then being used to serve targeted or personalized ads to users when they return to Meta-owned products.

The new Link History tool isn’t available globally yet, with it being rolled out “over time.”

How to turn your Facebook link history off

Facebook’s Link History tool is only accessible via the Facebook app. If you have this tool turned on, Facebook say “any links that you’ve tapped inside of Facebook and visited in Facebook’s Mobile Browser will be saved here for 30 days.

To turn link history off, you need to click any link inside of the Facebook app to open Facebook’s Mobile browser. From there, you can tap the three dots in the bottom right of the screen and then select ‘Browser Settings.’

Then, simply toggle off ‘Allow Link History’ and click ‘Allow’ to confirm your changes.

Facebook says it will delete a user’s link history within 90 days of the setting being turned off.

Featured Image: Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

James Jones

James Jones is an experienced journalist, editor and content creator, with over a decade of experience writing news and features for a variety of online publications.

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