Mark Zuckerberg Has a Message: Facebook Cares About Your Privacy. Really.


Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, addressed the company’s F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday. He expressed a commitment to protecting users’ data.

Jason Henry for The New York Times

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, wants to make one thing clear: Your privacy matters.

On Tuesday, before the start of Facebook’s annual developer conference, F8, Mr. Zuckerberg announced the introduction of a new privacy control that allows people to clear their history on the social network, essentially erasing what they have browsed on the site.

“This is an example of the kind of control we think you should have,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Facebook. “It’s something privacy advocates have been asking for — and we will work with them to make sure we get it right.”

The company has been emphasizing the importance of people’s privacy on the social network for the past several weeks, since an uproar erupted in March over how the consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had improperly harvested the information of up to 87 million Facebook users. Mr. Zuckerberg and other officials have been on a kind of apology tour, appearing before Congress and instituting various changes meant to bolster the control that the social network users have over their data.

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Some of the changes, including restrictions on the ability of third parties to obtain users’ data, have hurt some developers, whom Mr. Zuckerberg will address at the conference on Tuesday. Mr. Zuckerberg is also grappling with the departure of one of Facebook’s board members, Jan Koum, a founder of the messaging service WhatsApp.

Mr. Zuckerberg tried to set the agenda before his conference keynote speech by releasing the new privacy tool, Clear History.

Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, said in a post that the tool was part of the company’s effort to “supercharge” its work related to privacy concerns. She signaled that the announcement was one of many connected to the issue that Facebook planned to make at the conference.

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