Remember when Facebook surprised F8 attendees last year with the announcement that it was developing a Clear History tool for users?

Well, nearly a year later, the feature is reportedly “within months” of being released, and will enable Facebook users to delete third-party data used to track them outside of Facebook that would otherwise be used for advertising on the platform.

Don’t freak out just yet — we’ve got the details on how it will impact advertisers and what you can do to prepare for the change.

“Website retargeting audiences, such as though used in dynamic product campaigns, could see effects if users choose to clear their history, but performance implications will not be clear until the feature rolls out.”


katy lucey paid social tinuiti


-Katy Lucey, Director of Paid Social at Tinuiti


What Is Facebook’s Clear History Tool?


Facebook’s Clear History is a feature that allows users to erase third-party tracking data collected outside of Facebook that is used for advertising.

“This will include a list of the apps and websites someone visits that use our business tools such as the Facebook pixel, SDK and API,” states Facebook’s blog announcement.

The tool was first announced at last year’s F8 Conference and will reportedly give users:


  • Greater transparency around which websites and apps collect and send their user data


  • The ability to remove all information associated with their browsing and app history on Facebook


  • The option to disable data collection and history from their account altogether



Clear History Will Impact Third-party Targeting


Make no mistake, clear history will have an impact on advertisers who are targeting users that decide to use the feature.

Facebook has already forewarned marketers, writing in their original announcement that:

“When someone disconnects their off-Facebook activity, we won’t use the data they clear for targeting. This means that targeting options powered by Facebook’s business tools, like the Facebook pixel, can’t be used to reach someone with ads. This includes Custom Audiences built from visitors to websites or apps.”


facebook clear history


While any impact on targeting can cause alarm many of us marketers, it’s important to understand that not all data and audience types will be affected.

“Facebook’s first-party targeting data, including interests, demographics, list audiences, and lookalikes will not be affected by this change,” explains Lucey.

“Website retargeting audiences, such as though used in dynamic product campaigns, could see effects if users choose to clear their history, but performance implications will not be clear until the feature rolls out.


What You Can Do to Prepare for Clear History


While it’s impossible to gauge whether we will see mass adoption of the tool (users that do set themselves up for a non-personalized ad experience), it’s safe to say that advertisers on Facebook should be proactive rather than reactive.

“Advertisers who are not currently running these [first-party] audiences should begin to test them to set a baseline for performance,” advises Lucey.

“Tinuiti recommends continuing to build strong email lists ahead of the launch to be able to directly retarget to those users while testing the effects on website retargeting campaigns.”


google cookie blocking

Google also recently announced a cookie blocking extension for browser users.


If there is any single theme we are seeing from recent changes with Facebook’s Clear History tool, Google and Apple with cookie blocking, and wide-reaching data policies like GDPR in Europe and soon CCPA in California it’s that marketers will need to adapt to a landscape becoming more restrictive around the collection and use of third-party data.


This is a call to action for advertisers to improve on:


  • Gathering consent from users


  • Building strong first-party data strategies, and



Want to learn more?







Clear History’ was first revealed at this year’s Facebook F8 conference in San Jose. The idea of clearing your historical Facebook data has sparked interest in what it means for both the user experience and advertisers’ ability to target using the Pixel.

Let’s take a look at what ‘Clear History’ is, how it works, and how its release will impact both users and advertisers.


What Is ‘Clear History’ and How Does it Work?


Much of what we know about the new feature comes from this year’s F8 conference and intermittent revelations on social media and the Facebook Newsroom blog.


facebook f8 clear history keynote zuckerberg


Both CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan have made it clear that Clear History will enable users to:


  • See which websites and apps collect and send user data when used


  • Remove all information associated with their browsing and app history on Facebook


  • Disable data collection and history from their account altogether


Mark Zuckerberg compared the feature to ‘clearing the cookies’ from your web browser:


zuckerbeg facebook status clear history


While this may sound like a welcome addition for users concerned about misuse of data following the Cambridge Analytica controversy, it’s not without potential drawbacks.


‘Clear History’ Will Impact User Experience, Ad Relevancy


Erin Egan notes that Facebook uses your information to create more meaningful and relevant advertising experiences for users, and clearing this information will impact the Facebook experience.

“Apps and websites that use features such as the Like button or Facebook Analytics send us information to make their content and ads better. We also use this information to make your experience on Facebook better.”



-Erin Egan, VP and Chief Privacy Officer at Facebook


Although Facebook is granting a popular demand for complete control over personal data, users who decide to erase it or disable their history altogether risk creating a less relevant and more randomized advertising experience


What Does ‘Clear History’ Mean for Marketers?


Although this feature hasn’t released yet, we can be confident that users who choose to use this feature will become more difficult to target and will offer less useful data for marketers.

“From a marketing standpoint, users that clear their history are going to become more difficult to target using the Pixel. From a user standpoint, users are going to get less relevant ads and maybe a detrimental ad experience. Users that decide to delete their history may find themselves removed from your retargeting Pixel.”


nii ahene coo and co founder cpc strategy

-Nii Ahene, Co-founder and COO at CPC Strategy


Despite these concerns, Facebook remains one of the most important platforms for marketers to reach consumers. It’s by far the largest social network with over 2 billion users worldwide.

And the social media giant continues to grow despite backlash from the recent data controversy.

There’s also a potential silver lining for advertisers. Resetting the user’s data may give a chance for Facebook (and advertisers) to relearn a user from scratch. Potentially building a more accurate and up-to-date picture of a user.

“Users may not utilize the Clear History feature since this will log them out of every app currently connected with their Facebook login. The inconvenience of re-signing into apps may deter mass use of the tool. Also, users that decide to clear their history will be subjected to more random displays. Users prefer a personalized experience, ads included.”


sarah sanchez


-Sarah Sanchez, Manager, Performance Social at CPC Strategy


Erin Egan’s post stated that building the feature will take “several months,” so it’s likely Clear History will release in the near future.



Want to learn more about Facebook’s privacy changes?

Facebook Messenger Apps Under Review, Following Cambridge Analytica Data Disaster

Share This