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Facebook’s Clear History feature aimed at helping protect user privacy

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Ahead of Facebook’s F8 developer conference, the company announced its new tool to help protect user privacy. A feature called Clear History will help give people more information and control over the data Facebook collects from other websites and apps.

The feature is in response to feedback the company has received over the past several weeks. Facebook expressed that Clear History is its first step in proving that it’s truly attempting to release better ways to protect its user’s privacy.

The new feature is built similarly to the way users can clear cookies and history within their web browser. Now, users will be able to do the same on Facebook with a simple control that allows you to clear your browsing history on the social media platform specifically.

With Clear History, you will be able to see information about the apps and websites that specifically use Facebook’s ads and analytics tools. This will allow you to not only delete the information from your account but also turn off the ability to link this information back to your profile directly. This includes what you’ve clicked on and different websites you’ve visited while using Facebook.

In a press release, Erin Egan, Facebook’s vice president and chief privacy officer, explained it will still provide the websites and apps with aggregated analytics. This includes reports the company builds to send to developers in order to inform them of whether their apps are more popular with women or men in a particular age group. But it will do this in a way that doesn’t store information directly associated with your account, and advertisers won’t know who you are.

While Clear History will give you a more in-depth look at who is interacting with your information, it could also make your experience worse. CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to his own Facebook page to explain that the feature has the same effect as clearing cookies on your web browser.

By clearing your history on your Facebook page, it may make your experience less enjoyable — even in minor ways. For instance, you might have to sign back in each time you log into your account and it will also have to relearn your preferences.

The new feature will take a few months to build, so it won’t be available to use any time soon. While Facebook plans on creating a feature that allows users to remove identifying information from their accounts, Facebook also wants to find a way that allows it access to it in the event that it’s needed for security purposes.

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