Facebook Inc. might’ve changed the name to Meta Platforms Inc. but they didn’t change the game. The data-hungry social media giant is doing its best to track you externally if they can’t do it in the app due to the Do Not Track feature Apple introduced with iOS 14.5. That’s why they heavily rely on the in-app browser to track users’ online habits and behavior. And, to make things worse, said users can’t use the default browser (usually Safari) on Facebook and Instagram for iOS. Learn more below.
How to disable Facebook or Instagram in-app browser on your iPhone
At the moment, iPhone users on iOS 16 can’t disable Facebook or Instagram in-app browsers on their iPhones. Even if you have a dedicated app that opens these links, the third-party links opened on Facebook or Instagram will appear in the in-app browser. There’s a way to switch to the default browser (Safari) once you open the link. But that’s more of a workaround than a solution.
This allows something called cross-host tracking where Meta injects tracking Java code in third-party websites and tracks user data on external links which is against many modern privacy principles. Felix Krause from krausefx.com created a brilliant post that explains everything much better than we ever could. Make sure to check it out and learn more about Meta’s successful attempts to contradict Apple’s privacy policies and to what depth this blatant maneuvering can lead.
So, we already said that it’s not possible to open links externally on Facebook and Instagram for iOS. Every link will open in a simplistic built-in webview browser so Meta can track everything you do on the website you just opened. What you can do is two things. First, make sure that Tracking is not allowed. You can do that in Settings > Facebook or Settings > Instagram. Of course, do the same for Facebook Messenger. Unlike other Meta apps, WhatsApp opens links in the default browser.
The second thing is to always switch to Safari (or another default browser) or the dedicated app (e.g. open YouTube links in YouTube App with the Open App button) before you start browsing through the webpage you opened. To do that, just tap on the 3 horizontal dots at the bottom and select Open in Browser. If you don’t see this contextual menu, just copy the link and paste it into Safari.
Alternatively, you can use Safari to log into Facebook and Instagram and ditch the apps. That way you’ll only use the default browser on Facebook and Instagram for iOS.
At the moment, this is everything you can do. The last option is to deactivate Instagram and Facebook, but we are well aware that’s not ideal for many. Thank you for reading and don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments section below. We look forward to hearing from you.
You can remove Autofill and Contact info from Facebook on your iPhone by navigating to Facebook > the 3 horizontal lines menu > Settings & privacy > Settings > Browser. Once there, disable Autofill contact forms and Autofill payment forms.
To remove Off-Facebook activity where third-party websites and services share your data with Facebook, navigate to Facebook > the 3 horizontal lines menu > Settings & privacy > Settings > Off-Facebook Activity. Enter your password when prompted and tap Clear History. Once you clear History, tap Disconnect Future Activity.