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Clear History: Facebook's yet another attempt to redeem lost trust

Clear History gives users the option to decide whether to share their information with other websites or not. It also enables users to clear their browsing history.

At the F8 conference, the two-day annual developers meet by Facebook, the company announced that it is building a new feature called Clear History. The feature will enable a user to see the websites and apps that send Facebook information when a user uses/ access them. It then lets the user delete this information from their account, and turn off Facebook’s ability to store it associated with the users account, going forward. 

Typically, apps and websites that use these features such as Facebook Analytics help them to make their content and advertisements better. 

“If you clear your history or use the new setting, we’ll remove identifying information; so a history of the websites and apps you’ve used won’t be associated with your account. We’ll still provide apps and websites with aggregated analytics – for example, we can build reports that can tell developers 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, and as always, we don’t tell advertisers who you are,” said Erin Egan, VP and Chief Privacy Officer, Facebook. 

The company will take a few months to build the new feature. It claims it will be working with privacy advocates, academics, policymakers and regulators to get their input on the company’s approach. The company will have to come up with a mechanism to  remove identifying information and yet identify it in rare cases where it would be needed for information for security purposes. 

Facebook also introduced new privacy tools last month. It also gave easier ways for users to identify what information of theirs is being shared or was compromised. It further gave the option to delete or forget all or any old posts, comments, pictures etc. In the current scenario, it is crucial for the company to regain the trust of its users and one can clearly see it is all out on the mission. 

Facebook started having trust issues among users after it was accused of compromising user data of more than 87 million users by Cambridge Analytica, a data firm and used to influence elections in the US as well as India.