Facebook is building a new privacy tool that will let users clear their history.
However, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been threatened with a summons by the British Parliament if he fails to voluntarily appear before them.
While the firm at the center of the Facebook data harvesting scandal, Cambridge Analytica, recently entered insolvency, Facebook is hoping to bring the saga to a close with its announcement of an upcoming ‘Clear History’ feature. But is it too good to be true?
What is the ‘Clear History’ tool?
During his keynote presentation at Facebook’s annual F8 development conference last Tuesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the forthcoming arrival of a new ‘Clear History’ privacy tool. According to Zuckerberg, this tool will allow any Facebook user to delete data from their account, disable Facebook’s ability to store data and even see which websites and apps are sending Facebook information about them.
While this new tool will take “a few months” to be up and running, Zuckerberg outlined how his company is working closely with lawmakers, academics and privacy advocates during the development process.
Further details of the new privacy tool were revealed during a recent blog post by Erin Egan, Facebook’s VP and Chief Privacy Officer. Egan’s post revealed that all apps and websites that use Facebook features such as Facebook Analytics or the Like button routinely send information to Facebook. According to Egan, this helps to improve the “content and ads” offered to Facebook users. However, the privacy scandal has revealed widespread public discontent with how this information is collected and how it is being used.
How will the ‘Clear History’ tool work?
According to Zuckerberg, the upcoming privacy tool will offer users the same benefits as they would expect from clearing the history in their web browsers. The new Facebook tool will enable users to see the information about the apps and websites they’ve interacted with and clear this information if they wish. “You’ll even be able to turn it off,” he said.
Zuckerberg asked to testify before the British Parliament
Although Zuckerberg personally testified before U.S. House and Senate committees last month, he sent Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer, to testify before the British Parliament’s committee. The British Parliament’s probe into disinformation and fake news on the Facebook platform concluded that there were almost forty points that Schroepfer failed to provide a clear answer. Consequently, the committee sent a letter to Zuckerberg on Tuesday, asking him to appear and testify.
In a marked change of tone, Damian Collins, Chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, wrote that the Committee will issue a summons against Zuckerberg if he fails to testify voluntarily by May 24. The summons will take effect if Zuckerberg enters the UK.