Facebook will soon have a ‘Clear History’ feature as a means to offer more data privacy to users. The announcement was made ahead of the company’s F8 Developer Conference, which took place in San Jose, California, this week. As a part of the ‘Clear History’ feature, users will be able to see which apps, websites send data to Facebook, and the company will let a user delete this data stored with the social network.
“This feature will enable you to see the websites and apps that send us information when you use them, delete this information from your account, and turn off our ability to store it associated with your account going forward,” explains Facebook in its blog post. So what exactly does this mean and how will it protect user privacy? We explain below.
One thing to keep in mind is that there are a lot of services and apps that send data back to Facebook. For instances, websites and app with the Facebook Like button or those using Facebook analytics. Every time you interact with these services, some data is shared with Facebook, including your browsing habits. The social media network says collecting this data helps in ensuring better ads and servicing the user better. But what this also means that even when you are logged out of Facebook, some data is being collected about you by the social media network, thanks to these services.
What clear history will do is that Facebook will then remove “identifying information” thus ensuring that the social media network can no longer keep a history of the websites and apps one has used and these will not be associated with a particular user’s account. Facebook will not be keeping a tab on others sites, apps you browse if you choose to clear history. Think of ‘Clear History’ as being similar to how one clears their browser history from the settings in say, Chrome or Firefox. Facebook in its settings will also let users do the same.
So when is this feature rolling out? Users will still have to wait for a ‘Clear History’ feature. Facebook says it will take a few months to build this. “We’ll work with privacy advocates, academics, policymakers and regulators to get their input on our approach, including how we plan to remove identifying information and the rare cases where we need information for security purposes. We’ve already started a series of roundtables in cities around the world, and heard specific demands for controls like these at a session we held at our headquarters two weeks ago,” says the blogpost by Facebook’s Erin Egan, who is VP and Chief Privacy Officer at the company.
Keep in mind that the Facebook will continue to provide ‘aggregated analytics’ to apps, developers. Facebook says this will be done without storing the information in a manner that it is associated with a particular user’s account.
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