Logging on to Facebook after shopping elsewhere online can sometimes feel like you're stuck in an episode of Big Brother. All of a sudden, your News Feed is full of ads for objects and clothes you've viewed on other sites. The implication is that, somehow, Facebook is watching you.
It turns out, this is actually kind of true: Third-party websites and apps use Facebook's ads and analytics tools, and then share information with Facebook when you visit them. That's why the yoga mat you just dropped in your cart at Lululemon can suddenly show up on your Facebook feed as an ad.
You might have noticed this in the past and thought it seemed strange, but not given it much thought. But according to industry insiders, this is one of the most important sets of data Facebook has access to. And in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, concerns about what is and is not being tracked by Facebook have come to the forefront.
To that end, the company is introducing a new way to control, and even delete, your browsing history that is stored on Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg announced the development of the tool, simply called Clear History. Prior to delivering his keynote at F8, Facebook's annual developer conference, the CEO — recently back from a trip to Washington, DC — previewed the feature on his profile:
"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."