Months after the Initial Announcement, Facebook Finally Starts Introducing its Clear History Privacy Tool... in just 3 Countries for Now!

A little over a year ago, Mark Zuckerberg (CEO of Facebook) announced at the company’s annual developer conference that users will soon be able to cut the ties between their Facebook accounts and their web browsing history. While the plans had to be put on the back-burner then, the “Clear History” tool by Facebook is now finally making its way into Ireland, Spain and South Korea, with an assurance of rolling out in countries within the next few months.

As the name suggests, the new tool will allow users to have more control over the privacy of their data, and this would eventually affect the targeting capabilities of advertisers. The tool was much needed after the Cambridge Analytica scandal caused an uproar in the world of social media.

Once the tool rolls out in your country, you will be able to access it via “Off-Facebook activity”, which is a new section of service in Settings. Upon accessing it, you will discover the apps and websites that are tracking and sending back reports of your activity to Facebook. Once the “Clear History” button is tapped/clicked, that information will be separated from your account.

Additionally, you will be allowed to prevent a company’s tracking data about you being reported to Facebook in the future, by simply blocking those advertisers. You can either disassociate with all off-Facebook browsing data or with particular apps and websites.

Facebook is taking its time in rolling out the tool to ensure that it is working consistently for everyone.

It should be noted that you would most probably spot unfamiliar apps and websites in your account activity but it would be either due to a family member/friend looking it up on your phone at one point in time or because of your home computer being shared with others in the house.

As mentioned above, the product was announced and expected to roll out last year but the company encountered delays at more than one occasion.

The delay was mainly due to two technical challenges. The first of them being that Facebook data is separated and stored in different parts of Facebook’s systems. Retrieving all of the parts to clear them at once can be quite a lengthy and tiresome task.

The second challenge is also concerned with how the data is stored. Facebook saves browsing data by date and time. Thus, finding all the browsing data belonging to an individual user required something different and this led Facebook to create a new system for storing browsing data according to the user to whom it belongs to. This wasn’t an easy task and required much practice and time.

Facebook recently mentioned in a blog post that its engineering teams had to redesign the systems and devise a new way to process information, since Off-Facebook Activity is a new tool and there was no template to base it on. The company also took suggestions from people, policymakers, marketers and others to make the necessary changes.

Lastly, Facebook claimed that it plans on rolling out such tools to center the company around privacy.

Read next: Facebook to Get Rid of its Chat Feature for Groups
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