Facebook has been under immense pressure to give people more control over how much of their data the social media platform stores. The site released a privacy tool following the discovery that it had leaked up to 87 million users’ personal information. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced “Clear History” as a way to let people purge their accounts of any stored information, much like deleting your web browsing history.
Ahead of the F8 developer conference in San Jose, California, Zuckerberg teased this new feature with a post on Facebook, and he made it a point to lead with this announcement right out of the gate during his keynote. The Facebook CEO explained that the social media platform collects information on the apps, pages, and advertisements you interact with as you scroll through your News Feed. This serves as a way to keep track of your preferences, much like browser cookies that most websites use. With Clear History, users will be able to wipe their account clean of this information and even stop Facebook from storing it to begin with.
“You should have the ability to go in and clear your history at any point that you want,” says Zuckerberg. “You’re going to be able to use this tool to see the information about the apps and websites you’ve interacted with. You’ll be able to clear all of this information from your account and you’ll even be able to turn off any of this information [from being] stored with your account going forward.”
This will keep Facebook from stockpiling large amounts of your browsing habits, but it will also make your Facebook experience a less personalized. Many of the ads and recommendations you see in your feed are specifically served to you by the platform’s algorithm. But in order for it to do this, it needs to know your preferences. So if you chose to use Clear History, you might begin seeing ads that don’t align with the things you are interested in.
Zuckerberg did not state when this feature will be released to the public, but he claimed it will take “a few months” to build and rollout. He also ended this talking point by saying that Facebook will, “have a lot more of this to talk about soon,” which could allude to more privacy-centric features.
Cambridge Analytica revealed the gaping holes in Facebook’s data management system. This latest announcement is a step in the right direction in giving users power over their own information, as opposed to leaving it all in the hands of social networks.