Facebook began rolling out access to a new Clear History tool designed to give users more control over how their data is used for targeted advertising, more than a year after promising to deliver the feature.
The tool is nestled in a new Off-Facebook Activity menu, which gives users a rundown of which apps and websites have shared activity reports with the social media giant. Users can tap on each listing for specifics about what kind of data is being tracked, and choose to block apps and websites either individually or all at once.
The menu also includes a Clear History option, though the title is something of a misnomer. Rather than completely removing a user’s data from the company’s systems, Facebook said in a blog post the feature will simply prevent that information from being linked to that user’s account.
“We won’t know which websites you visited or what you did there, and we won’t use any of the data you disconnect to target ads to you on Facebook, Instagram or Messenger.”
The company defended the design in a separate post on its engineering blog, arguing that deleting user information stored across various databases would be time-consuming and “may not work reliably”. It added it decided to offer the option to disconnect historical activity data in bulk since it lacks “the capacity to readily remove individual items”.
Users in Ireland, South Korea, and Spain will be the first to gain access, with availability in other countries due in the coming months.
Facebook warned it expects the use of the new tools “could have some impact on its business” going forward, given its heavy reliance on revenue from targeted advertising.