Facebook Knows Where You’ve Been, And it Won’t Let You Erase the Evidence

August 22nd, 2019 12:08 PM

Facebook has been stalking users’ internet history. Don’t believe it? Just ask ... Facebook.

The company published an August 20 article via its Newsroom titled “Now You Can See and Control the Data That Apps and Websites Share With Facebook.” The piece  assures Facebook users that “businesses often share data about people’s interactions on their websites with ad platforms and other services.” Facebook stated that this is a mere feature of the modern internet that must be accepted.

Millions of users who have Facebook installed on their phones, and then shop, watch pornography, or use other popular websites, are being tracked by Facebook as part of its business model. But it's okay that users are being tracked, because “This is how much of the internet works.”

But good news! Facebook has launched a tool to “clear” your history. “To help shed more light on these practices that are common yet not always well understood, today we’re introducing a new way to view and control your off-Facebook activity” the newsroom article announced.  “Off-Facebook Activity lets you see a summary of the apps and websites that send us information about your activity, and clear this information from your account if you want to.”

There’s just one problem, summarized by Mashable:

“After numerous delays, they're now starting to roll out the ‘clear history’ feature. The catch? It doesn't actually ‘clear’ any of your data at all.”

The engineers wrote that the process of deleting the information taken from unaware users would “take time and may not work reliably.” They added that "the quicker, more reliable method would be to disconnect it directly from a person’s account."

In other words, Facebook will still have user information, it will just hopefully be anonymous. Good luck if users searched for websites that personally identify themselves and their families. 

As Mashable quipped “Think about that: For Facebook, which holds more than $40 billion in cash and hires some of the best engineers in the world, actually removing users' data from its systems is simply too hard.” The article then added as an aside “(Not mentioned is the fact that Facebook also has little incentive [sic] do so, as it would disrupt its advertising business even more.)”

The “Clear History” feature is not yet available in America, but based upon its deceptive promise, it seems like too little, too late for users concerned about their privacy.