Meta’s new ‘Link History’ records websites you visit via Facebook, Instagram: How to turn it off | Technology News

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Meta recently enabled a new “Link History” feature which the company claims allows you to easily find links you’ve visited before. But considering the company’s history of data collection malpractices, it’s fair to suspect that there’s an angle to it. Below, we tell you everything you need to know about link tracking – and how to turn it off if you want to.

When enabled, the Link History setting records every link you click on within the Facebook and Instagram apps and saves it to a special repository. According to Meta, this allows you to easily retrieve links you’ve visited in the past that you might want to find again – the company does not talk about how it could help gather data on your browsing behaviour.

Meta claims Link History makes it convenient to rediscover content, saying you’ll “never lose a link again.” But just like its past privacy settings, the opt-out requires multiple steps that nudge users toward leaving it on by default. Users are also generally unaware of settings like these, and since they’re on by default, they’re often simply left that way.

Link history raises new privacy questions

Reports have suggested that Meta has always tracked the links you click on. Meta apps like Facebook and Instagram come bundled with their own browsers and tapping on any links within the two apps does not launch your phone’s default browser, opening up the potential for tracking the websites you visit. With link history, the data tracking bit becomes a little more obvious. “When you allow link history, we may use your information to improve your ads across Meta technologies,” reads an excerpt from the company’s page.

Facebook says it will delete your Link History if you turn the setting off (after up to 90 days), but it’s unclear if any other records are retained. With Link History enabled by default, users gain some visibility into Facebook’s link-tracking practices.

How to turn off Link History on Instagram and Facebook

If you want to disable Link History tracking, it takes a few steps to find the right settings:

1. Open the Facebook or Instagram apps and tap any link to launch the in-app browser.

2. Tap the “More” icon in the bottom right corner, then tap “Settings.”

3. Find the “Allow Link History” toggle and turn it off.

4. Confirm you want to disable Link History when prompted.

Once you flip the toggle off, Meta says it can take up to 90 days to clear any existing link history it’s saved.

With lawmakers introducing stringent privacy regulations, Meta is seemingly trying to play it safe by at least allowing users to turn data collection off to avoid coming under fire from regulatory bodies. Last year, Australia fined Meta $14 million for undisclosed data collection. A Reuters report from October last year also suggested that Meta is exploring ad-free subscriptions to satisfy regulations from the EU.

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First uploaded on: 04-01-2024 at 15:29 IST

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