Facebook introduces 'clear history' tool but your data won't be deleted

Credit: Facebook

Facebook is introducing a new feature which disconnects, but does not delete, your browsing history from the social media platform.

The Off-Facebook Activity gives you a summary of the third-party apps and websites that send information to Facebook on your activity.

Through this information, Facebook can target users with personalised adverts, on everything from products you shop for to political candidates.

But now, Facebook users will be able to cut this link, so the social media platform no longer has access to people's off-platform browsing records.

Off-Facebook Activity is being rolled out in Ireland, South Korea and Spain first, before being extended to all Facebook users "over the coming months."

What is Off-Facebook Activity?

The feature will give users more control over the data sent to Facebook.

People will be able to clear the history and disconnect your off-Facebook activity from your personal account.

It will also allow you to disconnect future off-Facebook activity from your account, for all the websites and apps you visit or just specific ones.

The new feature gives users more control over the data sent to Facebook. Credit: PA

What happens when you clear your Off-Facebook Activity?

Facebook will remove any identifying information from the data that apps and websites send to the platform.

The social media giants said: "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."

Facebook will still collect the data, they just will no longer know it has come from you personally.

Will your data be deleted?

Facebook has been careful to use the wording 'clear history' in the new feature, rather than delete.

This is because your browsing data will not actually be deleted from Facebook's servers.

The information is only decoupled from your personal account, as Facebook says it still needs to provide information to businesses on the effectiveness of their ad campaigns.

Data will not be deleted from Facebook servers, but it will no longer be linked to personal accounts. Credit: PA

What impact will this have on Facebook's revenue?

With this tool, Facebook will no longer be able to target specific ads to their users, and the social media platform admitted in a blog post, the feature “could have some impact” on Facebook’s business.

But it added "giving people control over their data is more important."

How is information taken from websites/apps to Facebook?

Facebook Pixel is a piece of code on millions of websites, which can track your activities.

Another way websites feed back information to Facebook is when you use the social media site to login to an app.

How can I access the new feature?

The new tool will not be heavily promoted by Facebook, but users who wish to disconnect their browsing history can do so in the settings page of their Facebook app or on the website.