Facebook to Release ‘Clear History’ Feature this Year

Facebook’s ‘Clear History’ feature is set to be released allowing its users to erase all the data Facebook has collected from them. Facebook users will be able to see all third-party apps and websites they have previously interacted and deleted this information from their Facebook accounts.

Facebook’s Chief Financial Officer David Wehner announced that the social media giant will launch its privacy tool this year as he spoke at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference 2019 in San Francisco, as stated in a report by CNBC.

This long-awaited privacy feature was promised in May 2018, just before Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference, after being embroiled in the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal. A researcher from Cambridge Analytica who worked for Donald Trump’s campaign has collected data from up to 87 million Facebook users that shaken the internet in March last year. Thanks to the scandal, the social media network’s users have been more aware of how much data Facebook tracks and how personal data can be monetized.

As a result, Facebook pledged to be more transparent to its users on what it is doing with their personal information.

At that time, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a Facebook note posted on his personal page that the ‘Clear History’ feature would be “a simple control to clear your history on Facebook- what you’ve clicked on, websites you have visited, and so on.”

Zuckerberg further explains in his post, “In your web browser, you have a simple way to clear your cookies and history. The idea is a lot of sites require cookies to work, but you should still be able to flush your history whenever you want. We’re building a version for Facebook too.”

On the other hand, once cookies are cleared, it can make parts of user experience worse. Every time you visit a website you need to sign back in and configure stuff. It will be the same as with Facebook’s new feature. If you will use the ‘Clear History’ feature, your Facebook experience would not be as good as before. Facebook will need to relearn again your preferences.

In addition, users will also be able to turn off the feature of collecting browsing history for good. However, with this turned-off, Facebook will find it difficult to serve the user personalized content.

Wehner also emphasized that the feature would affect advertisement target, “Broadly, clear history is going to give us some headwinds in terms of being able to target as effectively as before.”

Facebook’s Vice President and Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan said in a press release that it will still provide the data for websites and apps with aggregated analytics. This includes reports Facebook send to developers to inform them of whether their apps are more popular with men or women in different age range. However, it will be in a different way that does not need to store information directly from the user’s personal account and advertisers will not know who you are.

After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, several changes were already put in place allowing Facebook users to take control over how third-party apps can access their personal information.

“This is an example of the kind of control we think you [users] should have. It’s what privacy advocates have been asking for and we will work with them to make sure we get it right.” Zuckerberg believes that this tool will help gain back its reputation and user’s trust.

As reported by BuzzFeed News, Facebook will start testing the ‘clear history’ feature this spring. Facebook said, “We want to ensure that this works the way it should for everyone on Facebook, which is taking longer than expected.”

At the end of the day, it is our job to intelligently protect our data before it's given to advertising companies like Facebook.

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