Facebook Enables Users to Review Own Search History -- and Delete It, If Necessary

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Updated 2012-09-25 | Posted 2012-09-25 Print this article Print

Users will be able to go back and delete all or part of a digital trail of Facebook search activity that they may or may not want the company to use in its daily business.

Facebook, in a continuing effort to repair public relations damage it suffered a couple of years ago when millions of users were confused about exactly what  personal information was going private or public, said Sept. 24 that it will now allow users to review their search history.

This means that users will be able to go back and delete all or part of a digital trail of Facebook search activity that they may or may not want the company to use in its daily business.

CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg said recently at the TechCrunch Disrupt 2012 conference in San Francisco that Facebook is redeveloping its search capability into a more useful tool, and thus, a more effective advertising product. Keeping track of users' search history is a big part of that strategy because advertisers will pay for that type of business analytic.

Search History a Major Source of Income

Facebook, like Google, YouTube, MySpace, Amazon.com and other similar Web companies, makes much of their income by selling users’ information to advertisers. Keeping track of search history, storing it and selling aggregate information based on personal Web activity is a profitable revenue stream for these companies.

The world's largest social network in 2011 started up what it calls an Activity Log to go with its revamped Timeline profile page layout. Activity Log enables users to review activity and approve or reject items for inclusion on their Timeline.

Activity Log now also will include details on searches conducted on Facebook.

"Starting today, in addition to your other activity, you'll be able to see the searches you're making on Facebook," a Facebook staffer wrote in a blog post. "Just as you can choose to delete any of your posts, you can use the same inline control on Activity Log to remove any of your searches at any time. It's important to remember that no one else can see your Activity Log, including your search activity."

Users can expect to see their Activity Logs updated with search activity over the next few weeks, Facebook said.

Web Search Control Available on Desktop Only at First

At first, the new Web trail control will only be available on the desktop version of Facebook, which reassured users that no one outside the company can view their activity log or search history.

Facebook said the new feature is another part of its strategy to put more settings in a centralized location.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz


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