Facebook’s long-promised “clear history” tool hit yet another road block this week when a court in Texas ordered a temporary stop to its roll out. The judge issued the block at the request of a woman who has accused Facebook of not doing enough to prevent her from falling prey to sex traffickers as a teenager.
Lawyers for the woman said they asked Facebook for the browsing history of her alleged victimizer, and Facebook refused. They also said that if Facebook released its history-clearing feature, Off-Facebook Activity, the victimizer would be able to destroy evidence of his crimes. A judge in Texas agreed with the argument enough to delay release of the tool until August 30, when there will be a hearing to determine if the delay is extended.
Facebook strongly disagreed with the judge’s order, and said it is actively hurting user privacy.
“Off-Facebook Activity is an industry-leading tool that we designed to provide people with more control over their data,” the company said in a statement last week. “Although we have not yet launched it in the United States, we believe this order — which purports to temporarily prohibit us from launching the tool in the United States — undermines user privacy and is entirely without basis.”
At this point, it feels like we’re never actually going to see this privacy tool. But for all of its shortcomings, it’s still better than what Facebook offers now, so here’s hoping the company can sort out its issues and get it on the market.
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