Facebook will soon launch Clear History, a tool that lets users clear information about the websites and apps they've interacted with and opt out of having the platform store this information, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in a post. Facebook uses browsing history data to sell targeted ads and personalize the user experience.
A number of developments were announced at Facebook's F8 annual developer conference on Tuesday, including an upcoming dating feature that will let users find potential matches and message them using just their first names; a refresh for Messenger, including a simpler visual look and augmented reality for brands, and the addition of AR to Instagram Stories for brands and influencers, The Verge reported.
Facebook also introduced several new Oculus products at F8, including the Oculus Go virtual reality headset that's now available for purchase with more than 1,000 apps available on the platform, VentureBeat reported. Oculus TV, which launches this month, places viewers in a VR living room with a TV screen where they can watch content from ESPN, Netflix, Hulu and Showtime. Oculus Venues will replicate the experience of going to the movies or attending concerts or sporting events, and a new version of Oculus Rooms offers a redesigned hangout area where users can socialize and will feature Hasbro-brand board games.
While some of Facebook's new features this week are an attempt to boost consumer interest in the company's array of platforms, developments like the Clear History tool could make it harder for advertisers to target users based on their browsing history if users widely adopt it. That is a risk Facebook now apparently has to take as the company is still dealing with backlash from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where the data of 87 million users was abused by a data firm linked to Donald Trump's presidential campaign. In his post about the Clear History tool, Zuckerberg referenced his recent testimony before Congress about the incident and how it opened his eyes to the need for a clearer approach on data:
"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," Zuckerberg wrote in the post. "We're working to make sure these controls are clear, and we will have more to come soon."
More AR filters could appeal to advertisers as consumers, so far, have responded well to this type of content at a time when many are not interested in more traditional ads.
To further inspire confidence in advertisers, Facebook also announced a new Facebook Analytics app to help businesses track their apps, websites, bots and event source groups, according to TechCrunch. The app lets users create custom mobile views of metrics like revenue, retention, demographics and active users, making it an attempt to address the fact that marketers want simple ways to measure the effectiveness of their campaign.
For another look at the news for brands coming out of F8, check out our sister publication Mobile Marketer's analysis.