UPDATED 20:10 EDT / JANUARY 03 2024


Facebook debuts Link History as a new way to keep tabs on users’ browsing habits

Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook has begun archiving some user’s link histories on both Android and iOS devices, marketing the move as a better way for users to keep track of the various web pages they come across via their news feeds.

Although users have the option to opt out, the Link History feature is reportedly switched on by default, and the real beneficiary is Meta, which make use of the browsing data it collects to targe ads more precisely.

According to Meta, Link History will store all of the links a user has clicked on for a duration of 30 days. However, it only does so for mobile users, meaning those browsing through Facebook on their personal computers will not have their link histories stored. It should also be noted that any links sent via Messenger and clicked on by users will also not be saved.

The feature could help Facebook’s targeted ad business at a time when the digital marketing industry continues to get to grips with the idea of a future without cookies, the pieces of code that among other things identify what sites users have visited so they can be targeted with ads. In addition, there are stricter privacy laws in some territories that make targeted advertising less effective. As such, the new feature could help offset some of those challenges, providing marketers with up-to-date information about users’ browsing habits.

Facebook said in an update that the feature is being introduced gradually, so it may not be available to every user yet. On an FAQ page, the company declined to provide a specific timeline for the rollout of Link History, but confirmed it will eventually come to every user globally, at least on mobile.

Gizmodo was the first to report on the new feature, saying that it came across it via an in-app pop-up. According to that report, Facebook is pitching Link History as a way to “never lose a link again” and insists it could be useful for many of its users.

Of course, not everyone likes being tracked across the web, and for that reason Facebook is allowing users to opt out. To do so, users must first click on a link on their Facebook news feed in order to launch its mobile browser. Then, they proceed to click on the three dots located in the bottom right corner of the browser and select “Browser settings.” From there, they toggle the switch next to “Allow link history” and confirm it by tapping “Don’t allow.”

Facebook said in a statement that when users turn off the feature, their link history will immediately be cleared and they’ll no longer be able to see any links they’ve visited over the previous 30 days. It also said it won’t save link histories or use them to target ads across Meta.

However, although users will no longer see their link histories the moment they switch the feature off, Meta says it may take up to 90 days before it deletes the information from its servers.

Users can also enable Link History at any time by opening their mobile browser, going to settings and toggling the switch back to “Allow link history.”

Featured image: geralt/Pixabay

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