Facebook will let you wipe your browsing history
Facebook will soon let you toss your cookies.
The site is building a tool to let users “clear” their browsing history from the social media giant’s database, CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed Thursday.
“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,” Zuckerberg wrote on his own Facebook page before taking the stage at the company’s F8 conference.
“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.”
“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. You’ll even be able to turn off having this information stored with your account,” he continued.
The announcement comes just weeks after revelations that political data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica gathered personal information from 87 million users sparked widespread fury — and after Zuckerberg was grilled by Congress over the breach.
Facebook currently collects users’ web browsing histories — even when they’re not on Facebook — to use for targeted ads, and stores it for between 90 days and two years, according to Recode.
The new “clear history” button won’t actually delete that data, but it will “remove identifying information so a history of the websites and apps you’ve used won’t be associated with your account,” the company’s chief privacy officer wrote in a separate blog post.
“We’ll still provide apps and websites with aggregated analytics — for example, we can build reports when we’re sent this information so we can tell developer if their apps are more popular with men or women in a certain age group. We can do this without storing the information in a way that’s associated with your account,” wrote Erin Egan.
Zuckerberg warned that pressing the button may make your experience on Facebook “worse” — like when you clear cookies from your browser and then have to log in to websites again.
“The same will be true here. Your Facebook won’t be as good while it relearns your preferences,” he said.
But, he acknowledges, it’s what the people want.
“It’s something privacy advocates have been asking for — and we will work with them to make sure we get it right,” he wrote.
“One thing I learned from my experience testifying in Congress is that I didn’t have clear enough answers to some of the questions about data. We’re working to make sure these controls are clear, and we will have more to come soon.”
The tool will take “a few months” to build, Egan says.
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