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Facebook Set to Allow Users to ‘Clear History’

Facebook has announced a new feature designed to allow users to clear their browsing history on the site, as new research reveals nearly half of UK adults want to delete part of their digital history.

The F8 announcement is of a pending feature called Clear History, which will work in a similar way to clearing your data and deleting cookies in the browser.

Crucially, it will also enable users to clear their interactions with any apps or websites associated with their account and ensure Facebook doesn’t store this information going forward. That’s a likely response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

“In your web browser, you have a simple way to clear your cookies and history. The idea is a lot of sites need cookies to work, but you should still be able to flush your history whenever you want. We're building a version of this for Facebook too,” explained CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“Once we roll out this update, you'll be able to see information about the apps and websites you've interacted with, and you'll be able to clear this information from your account. You'll even be able to turn off having this information stored with your account.”

Zuckerberg warned that the user experience may be denigrated by clearing history in this way, just as it is when you delete cookies, but that may not be an issue for many users and privacy groups who have been calling for years for more control over their information.

Transparency and accountability are, of course, central to the forthcoming GDPR. With the new regulation in mind, Accenture Security polled 2000 UK adults to better understand how they felt about their personal information being collected online.

The vast majority (70%) agreed that people should have the right to be forgotten online — a key feature of the new law. Nearly half (47%) said they’d like some parts of their digital history to be deleted forever.

These included photos posted by others, embarrassing social media posts, search engine history, shopping habits, and credit history.

“This research shows that many people don’t fully believe companies will do right by their personal information and so businesses clearly have a job to do to build digital trust,” argued Accenture Security managing director, Nick Taylor. “Doing this successfully will bring rewards in collecting, segmenting and responding to customer needs. GDPR represents an opportunity for companies to prove themselves, deepen digital trust and do more, not less, with consumer data.”

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