Facebook’s privacy-focused clear history tool is set to land in 2019

Facebook says it will launch its long-awaited “clear history” privacy tool this year, but it still can’t put a precise date on its rollout. The feature, which will give Facebook users more control over personal data connected to third-party websites and apps, was first announced by the social networking giant in May 2018.

The idea for the tool came in response to 2018’s damaging Cambridge Analytica scandal that saw the personal data of tens of millions of Facebook users harvested by third-party apps for political purposes.

Speaking this week at the Morgan Stanley Tech, Media and Telecom Conference in San Francisco, Facebook chief financial officer David Wehner confirmed that the tool will be made available before year-end.

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg described the feature in a post on his personal page in 2018, explaining that it will work in a similar way to how you clear cookies from your web browser. Cookies are small files that a website stores on your computing device and contain data about your browser or login data. Businesses find them particularly useful because they help to target ads, though they also serve other purposes.

Zuckerberg wrote that just as with a web browser, you’ll be able to flush your Facebook activity history from the social networking site whenever you like.

“Once we roll out this update, you’ll be able to see information about the apps and websites you’ve interacted with, and you’ll be able to clear this information from your account,” Zuckerberg said in the post. “You’ll even be able to turn off having this information stored with your account.”

But he said that clearing the data could adversely affect parts of your Facebook experience, citing as an example, having to sign back into every website that you were previously automatically logged into.

The Facebook boss described the upcoming clear history tool as “something privacy advocates have been asking for — and we will work with them to make sure we get it right.”

Specific details on how the tool will function are yet to be revealed, but for Facebook users concerned about privacy, the feature should offer more peace of mind when it comes to controlling personal data online.

As for Facebook, it’s well aware that the tool has the potential to hit its bottom line as it would compromise its ability to effectively target ads, but this ultimately depends on how many people decide to make use of it.


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