Facebook’s ‘Clear History’ feature delayed until spring 2019

Users will be able to disassociate browsing history from their accounts, which may have implications for retargeting on the platform.

During Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference in May, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company was working on a Clear History feature that would allow users to remove browsing history from their accounts. There has been little news on how the feature would work or when it would be available since Zuckerberg first mentioned it more than seven months ago. On Monday, Facebook executives confirmed to Recode the Clear History feature would not be delivered for testing until Spring of 2019.

Why you should care

The Clear History feature was one of Facebook’s responses to criticisms that the company had repeatedly failed to safeguard user data and information. According to a Facebook spokesperson the function will remove any browsing history and app activity connected to a user: “When you clear your history, we’ll remove identifying information so a history of the websites and apps you’ve used won’t be associated with your account.”

When users clear browsing history from their accounts, Facebook should no longer be able to use that data for ad retargeting purposes.

The delay, Recode reported, is the result of how Facebook had stored browsing data, which is by date. Facebook is building a way for its systems to process browsing data in such a way that users can see the activity that Facebook has captured when they request it.

“We want to build something that’s truly helpful for everyone on Facebook and we’d rather take the time to get it right than rushing something out,” Facebook’s director of product management, David Baser, said in a statement. “One of the challenges we’ve faced is that when we store off-Facebook information we organize it by date, not profile. Clear History will show information organized by profile. To do this instantaneously for people so they can control it, has meant we’ve needed to build a new way for our systems to process information. Making sure this works the way it should for a platform that supports 2.3 billion people is not easy but we intend to start testing Clear History in Spring 2019.”

In terms of performance measurement for advertisers, for example cross-device, Facebook says more details around reporting will come when the feature launches.

More on Facebook’s Clear History feature

  • Facebook says it will start testing the Clear History feature next spring, but it’s not clear how long it will take to fully roll out.
  • The implications for advertisers who use Facebook ads to reach users after they’ve visited their sites or apps will depend on how widely the feature is adopted by users.
  • It could add to advertisers’ concerns about losing targeting data as Facebook has reacted to ongoing privacy scandals and regulatory pressures.

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is Third Door Media’s General Assignment Reporter, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs.com, SoftwareCEO.com, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.

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