Facebook's Clear History tool arrives, here's all you need to know

Facebook’s quarterly revenue. Source the company

Facebook’s quarterly revenue. Source the company

On Tuesday, I reported about the arrival of the "Off-Facebook Activity" tracker, a tool long promised by chief executive Mark Zuckerberg that shows you just how much the social network knows about you.

You'll need to go to Facebook's special page for permanently deleting your account. You can click on any item to display details, e.g. how many interactions were shared, and settings to turn off future activity for that particular company, or to give feedback.

Then you'll see the Off-Facebook Activity option halfway down.

On top of clearing your browsing history, the new tool also includes options to review your information by category, download all or part of it and choose how your off-Facebook activity should be managed in the future.

Finally, Facebook is giving its users some control over their personal data.

Colin Sebastian, of Baird Equity Research, said: "We remain encouraged by core engagement trends, incremental growth opportunities from new formats and apps, and more broadly the advantages of Facebook's first-party ad business". It's one of the ways Facebook's targeted ads become eerily specific and seem to know what you've been looking up on other websites. So Facebook can still tell advertisers how well their ads are performing. Never mind that you shouldn't be using it, for this very reason, but if you are, you'll be logged out and have to create a new login for those accounts or apps.

You can access Facebook's "Clear History" tool via Settings Your Facebook information Off-Facebook Activity.

This data is collected by not only tracking their activity on all Facebook apps/services but also gathering web activity data from third-party apps, websites they visit across the internet. You can disconnect it with the "clear history" control, the instructions for which can be found here.

Hit "Turn Off", and within two days Facebook will stop connecting events from that third-party site or app with your account.

This is what Facebook says when you select the clear history option.

Until there are clearer privacy laws in the U.S., protecting yourself is going to remain an arms race.

Click the slider, and it'll display a finger-wagging pane reminding you that you'll still see ads, and they'll still be personalised based on what you do on Facebook. Also note that Facebook uses the term "disconnect" and not delete or remove; this suggests that the data may not be deleted outright or at all.

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