Facebook announces Clear History tool as Mark Zuckerberg laments 'intense year'

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has described 2018 as an "intense year" for the social network, but promised to take a "broader view" of the company's responsibilities.

Mr Zuckerberg was speaking at the company's annual F8 developer conference, where he referred to the recent data privacy scandal involving the site and Cambridge Analytica as a "major breach of trust".

He announced the social media platform was to introduce a new Clear History tool, which would enable Facebook users to see the information third party sites and apps collected on them via Facebook and delete this data.

Today at our F8 conference I'm going to discuss a new privacy control we're building called "Clear History". In your...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The new tool will also allow users to turn off Facebook's ability to store this information in the future.

"We need to make sure this doesn't happen again", he said of the Cambridge Analytica incident, adding that it was important for the company to keep building new privacy tools as the issue would never fully be solved, calling it an "arms race".

The Facebook founder also spoke about the company's wider plans to introduce new tools to find and remove malicious content and accounts, as it looked to "protect election integrity" as well as data privacy among users.

"We need to take a broader view of our responsibilities. It's not enough to just make powerful tools, we need to make sure that these tools are used for good," he said.

"We're hard at work making sure people don't misuse our platform."

However, Mr Zuckerberg did not respond to calls from MPs to appear before a parliamentary inquiry into fake news.

Damian Collins, chairman of the Commons select committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) repeated a request on Tuesday for the Facebook founder to appear before them in the letter to the firm, saying evidence provided by Facebook chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer last week "failed to answer fully" almost 40 questions.

Mr Collins's letter said the committee would consider issuing a formal summons for the next time Mr Zuckerberg was in the UK if it did not receive a response by May 11.

(Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)
(Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Last month, Mr Zuckerberg spent two days testifying before the US Congress on his company's data and business practices, an appearance he appeared to make light of during his F8 keynote, showing video from his testimony as an example of how Facebook users could watch and react to live video within its app.

During his keynote, the social network boss also attempted to strike an optimistic tone with the developers in the audience, telling attendees the site was committed to design technology to "help bring people closer together".

Among the major product announcements aimed at such a goal was a new dating feature.

Facebook said the dating tool would enable users to build a special dating profile separate from their main Facebook one, with potential matches shown to them based on the preferences they choose and things in common, such as mutual friends.

However, the tool will not show users people they are already friends with, and their activity in the dating section of the app will not be shown to their friends on the site.

The company also confirmed its new virtual reality headset - Oculus Go - the first premium VR headset to be completely wireless and standalone, was now available to buy for £199.

Before leaving the stage, Mr Zuckerberg also paid tribute to WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, who announced on Monday he was leaving the Facebook-owned company, with a report in the Washington Post claiming he was unhappy over plans around a possible weakening of encryption in the messaging app.

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