Almost a year and a half after announcing a ‘Clear History’ option. At the annual F8 developer conference last year, Facebook is finally starting to roll out the feature. In an official blog post on Tuesday, the company said that the promised functionality is now rolling out. In Ireland, South Korea, and Spain, with a full global roll-out expected ‘over the coming months’.
The feature, which will allow users to erase all info that the company collected about them from other websites. It will be part of a new section called ‘Off-Facebook Activity’. It will “let you see a summary of the apps and websites that send us information about your activity”. Users will also be able to delete all this history. It is largely used by the company to dish out targeted ads and increase engagement via recommended posts.
According to Facebook, Off-Facebook Activity will enable users to see and control the data that other apps and websites share with the social network through tools like Facebook Pixel or Facebook login. The feature will not only allow users to erase all existing off-Facebook browsing data from their account but also prevent the company from collecting any further info from third-party sites in the future. “You can do this for all of your off-Facebook activity, or just for specific apps and websites”, said the company.
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Earlier when Mark Zuckerberg first mentioned this tool he wrote”In your web browser, you have a simple way to clear your cookies and history. The idea is a lot of sites need cookies to work, but you should still be able to flush your history whenever you want. We’re building a version of this for Facebook too. It will be a simple control to clear your browsing history on Facebook — what you’ve clicked on, websites you’ve visited, and so on,”.
Under pressure from privacy advocates and government regulators following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook recently added some transparency to the way it shows ads and posts to users. However, the option to clear all browsing history remained at the top of the wishlist for most privacy-conscious users, who’d now be happy to see the feature finally starting to roll out to users.
Ad tracking implications
The ‘clear history’ feature will be broadly welcomed by users and privacy advocates. The feature will have implications on what adverts are shown to you.
As Wehner explained, the feature is going to give us some headwinds in terms of targeting. With Facebook unable to use data collected by third parties, it could struggle to target relevant ads.
However, for most people, this will be a price worth paying for greater control over the information. Plus, the social media network has plenty of other methods for harvesting user data to supply relevant adverts.
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