Facebook’s Clear History Tool Isn’t Here Yet, But It’s Getting Businesses Ready

Targeting options, including custom audiences, will likely be impacted

When people elect to use Clear History, the data they remove can no longer be used for targeting
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The Clear History feature, first mentioned by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at F8 2018 last May, hasn’t rolled out yet, but the social network is preparing advertisers for the inevitable.

Facebook still doesn’t have an exact date for the feature, saying only that it will debut “in the coming months.”

When Zuckerberg first revealed Clear History last May, he compared it to the way web browsers enable people to clear their cookies and browsing histories, saying at the time that the feature would provide users with information about the applications and websites they had interacted with via Facebook and enable them to clear that information, as well as to prevent it from being stored with their accounts.

During the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference this past February, Facebook chief financial officer David Wehner said Clear History will debut later this year, telling attendees, “We’ve elected to roll out GDPR-type [General Data Protection Regulation] controls globally. We’ve done different moves like deprecate partner categories. Later this year, we’ll be launching Clear History, which will also affect our ability to do third-party targeting for those who would clear history.”

Facebook reiterated in a blog post Tuesday that the purpose of Clear History is to give people more transparency and control over the data shared with Facebook by other apps and websites via the social network’s business tools, including the Facebook pixel and its software-development kits and application-programming interfaces.

The company wrote, “We believe that offering people greater transparency and control will ultimately have a positive, long-term effect on businesses using Facebook,” and it shared four key points for businesses on its platform.

The social network maintained that the transparency and control that will be enabled by its Clear History feature will give its users a better feeling about the ads and businesses they interact with across its platform—Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. Facebook wrote, “It’s important to understand that advertising and protecting people’s information are not at odds—we can do both.”

On that note, one of the goals of Clear History is to educate people on how advertisers use Facebook’s tools, and the social network said it welcomes conversations with other businesses about approaches they take to help people understand what data they share and why.

Facebook admitted that when people elect to use Clear History, the data they remove can no longer be used for targeting, which will obviously impact its targeting options, including the custom audiences Facebook generates based on the websites and apps people visit, and it said, “Businesses should keep this in mind when developing strategies for these kinds of campaigns in the second half of the year and beyond.”

Finally, the social network stressed that its measurement and analytics tools were created with keeping users’ privacy in mind, and personal information such as names and phone numbers is never included in those tools, which will not change. The company wrote, “We will still be able to provide accurate measurement to help businesses understand the impact of their Facebook investment, while honoring people’s choice to exercise control over their off-Facebook activity.”

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