What Facebook’s ‘Clear History’ Tool Means For Your Business

What Facebook’s ‘Clear History’ Tool Means For Your Business

Facebook's 'Clear History' tool and your business

My husband’s been looking for theater seating for his man cave. (We all gotta dream.) One night I opened Facebook to mindless scroll as I wound down for the night. An ad for theater seating popped into my newsfeed. I sent him a screenshot and told him Facebook ratted him out. 

We’ve all had similar experiences. You search for phone covers or cars or an explanation of flu symptoms and your newsfeed is filled with ads from the sites you visited. Sometimes it’s a helpful reminder of what you wanted to purchase, and sometimes it’s just plain creepy.

As a marketing agency, we’ve used the data gathered by Facebook from our own websites, our clients’ websites and other apps and websites to build strong audiences for our ad campaigns. Facebook uses what it knows about us (which is sometimes more than we know about ourselves) to target ads very specifically. It’s a great tool for businesses and marketers, but it infringes on the consumer’s privacy.

In late January 2020, Facebook announced the availability of “Clear History,” a button in its settings that allows users to disconnect what Facebook knows about them from their profile. As explained by Pocket-Lint and Buzzfeed, it’s not that Facebook will delete all the information it’s gathered about you, but that the information won’t be tied to your profile anymore. All of the ramifications of “clear history” aren’t all that clear. It appears once a user clears their history, the websites they cleared will be blocked from sending data to Facebook in the future.

What ‘Clear History’ Means For Businesses

question mark; what 'clear history' means for your business

Some digital marketing experts speculate how many users can actually find the “Off Facebook Activity” settings and change them. Most users haven’t heard of this option, yet. Even those who have heard of it may experience difficulty finding and changing the settings, which means the “Clear History” setting may not be as big of a threat as it seems.

Should a user clear their history and block your website from reporting data back to Facebook, it will effectively remove your ability to retarget those website visitors. Retargeting ads are one of the most popular ads options on Facebook because it allows businesses to show their ads to consumers who are already familiar with their business and interested in their products.

We’ve said for many years that consumers and businesses are all squatters on Facebook. We don’t own anything. Facebook allows our business pages access to their users as they see fit through their algorithms. The way around limited access to followers is through Facebook ads. As Facebook continues to narrow its privacy rules, our targeting options decrease.


Advertisers will always find a work-around. One of those is to build an email list (which you own) and advertise to your own audience using that list. Emails can be used for direct email campaigns or you can create a Facebook audience using those email addresses. Either way, you own the data, no one else.

Facebook advertising gained popularity because of its ease of use and low cost. As the social media giant reigns in how advertisers access its users, more businesses need digital agencies to help them create targeted audiences. We’re here to help our clients create strong social and email marketing campaigns that reach the right audiences through organic and paid reach. If you’re not seeing the reach or engagement you once saw through your social media ads call us for a 30-minute consultation to discuss your digital marketing needs.

P.S. To see what information Facebook and outside sites have gathered on you, go to settings on your personal Facebook profile and choose Off Facebook Activity from the left-hand column.