Thursday, 03 May 2018 00:22

VIDEO: Zuckerberg and Facebook to release 'clear history' privacy control update

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Facebook is getting set to release an privacy control "clear history" update that will delete data on what you've clicked on, sites you've visited and more, but it only appears to be for Facebook users.

If you're not a Facebook user, you might be surprised to discover that Facebook has been reportedly building "shadow profiles" of non-users for years, gathering information on your activities across the Internet through the various Facebook comment plug-ins and whatever else Facebook has across the Internet.

Facebook is doing this for its own users, too, and it is done to sell targeted advertising to you, which is one of the ways that Facebook makes money.

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg made this announcement on his personal Facebook page ahead of Facebook's F8 conference, and then spoke about the new capability at F8 itself, the video of which I have embedded below.

Now, whether Facebook is going to offer a way for non-Facebook users to delete this data isn't clear — and you've have to assume there will be no way for non-Facebook users to do this — but if you're a Facebook user, it will have some seemingly relatively minor consequences if you decide to clear your browsing, click and other non-personally created data at Facebook, as Zuckerberg himself describes below.

What it should do, at least, is to stop all those creepy ads following you across the Internet, even if you've purchased the item you're looking for already, and hopefully, it will see Facebook take privacy a lot more seriously, although it has to be said, I looked out the window earlier today and saw some pigs flying in the distance.

I did a double take, because pigs aren't supposed to be able to fly, of course, but these were rather curious pigs, because they were dragging a banner behind them in flight which read "Mark Zuckerberg actually cares about your privacy."

It was a sight to behold – I'll never forget it!

So – here's the Zuck giving his talk at the F8 conference, after which I've reprinted his announcement at his own Facebook page below.

Here's what Mark Zuckerberg said at his Facebook page: 

"Today at our F8 conference I'm going to discuss a new privacy control we're building called "Clear History".

"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. It will be a simple control to clear your browsing history on Facebook – what you've clicked on, websites you've visited, and so on.

"We're starting with something a lot of people have asked about recently: the information we see from websites and apps that use Facebook's ads and analytics tools.

"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.

"To be clear, when you clear your cookies in your browser, it can make parts of your experience worse. You may have to sign back in to every website, and you may have to reconfigure things. The same will be true here. Your Facebook won't be as good while it relearns your preferences.

"But after going through our systems, this is an example of the kind of control we think you should have. It's something privacy advocates have been asking for – and we will work with them to make sure we get it right.

"One thing I learned from my experience testifying in Congress is that I didn't have clear enough answers to some of the questions about data. We're working to make sure these controls are clear, and we will have more to come soon."

So, there you have it. After well over a decade of not actually caring about your privacy and abusing the data collected as much as possible for Facebook's profit and not yours, Facebook now cares.

Peace out.

Oh, for more, check out Recode's take here, and CNET's take here.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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