Amid the fallout from recent data privacy scandals, Facebook used its annual F8 developer conference to unveil a new feature that will let users remove the browsing data associated with their account, while also announcing a surprise move into the online dating market.
First up, CEO Mark Zuckerberg (pictured) said the Clear History tool will wipe information about what apps and sites a user has interacted with. It will also offer users the option to prevent that information from being associated with their account in the future.
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal, Zuckerberg said the forthcoming tool is the kind of control the company wants users to have. But he warned using the feature could degrade the user experience, noting “Facebook won’t be as good while it relearns your preferences.”
The tool builds on controls Facebook released earlier this year to give users more power over their data and privacy settings.
But ‘Clear History’ won’t be available to users immediately. Facebook said it will take “a few months” to build the feature in consultation with advocates, policymakers and regulators.
The company also threw in a curveball when it announced plans to add a dating feature to connect some of the 200 million single users on Facebook, a move which will pit it against the likes of Tinder.
Slated for testing later this year, the feature will allow users to create a dating profile separate from their public profile, and connect with potential matches through dating preferences, common interests and mutual friends.
Oculus Go hits shelves
Also in the headlines at Facebook’s conference was the arrival of the company’s Oculus Go standalone virtual reality (VR) headset, which is now shipping nearly seven months after its introduction in October.
The device’s launch comes with a major update for Oculus Rooms, an app that lets Oculus users hang out together in VR. Redesign highlights include a customisable environment, improved avatars and the ability to play Hasbro board games, including Boggle and Monopoly, using the headset. Another app, Oculus Venues, lets users experience live events, such as concerts and sports matches, in VR. Venues will be available later this month.
Facebook also sought to expand the reach of immersive experiences even further, adding augmented reality (AR) features, including face filters and world effects, to its Messenger and Instagram apps. Additionally, the company launched a tool for developers to build AR experiences for Messenger that let users interact with merchandise and browse products from advertisers.