Facebook is introducing a new tool to help users batch-delete old posts and shrink their digital footprint on the aging social network.
Called “Manage Activity,” the new feature lets users prune their posts in bulk, making it less of a headache to delete content aging badly or anything else unnecessary that’s built up from years of using the platform. The feature will be available to some users on the Facebook app today and will roll out more broadly in the next few weeks.
“Whether you’re entering the job market after college or moving on from an old relationship, we know things change in people’s lives, and we want to make it easy for you to curate your presence on Facebook to more accurately reflect who you are today,” Facebook wrote in the tool’s announcement.
Anyone who’d like to batch-delete or archive old content will be able search their entire trove of Facebook posts using filters for dates, people tagged, and content type (photo, video, text updates, et cetera). In a preview of the tool, it looked like a vastly more useful way to control aging content without having to manually scroll through years of old posts.
Users skittish about getting rid of content permanently can opt to archive their old posts rather than deleting them outright. Archived posts stick around in a kind of purgatory, remaining viewable to their creator, like the Stories archive feature on Instagram. Deleted posts will hang out for 30 days before being wiped and users can either restore them or manually delete them from there.
In the past, users were stuck either batch-deleting old posts manually or installing third-party browser add-ons, which are notoriously rife with malware.
While it’s actually fairly shocking Facebook didn’t already have this tool, the platform’s privacy controls have a history of being somewhat fussy and difficult to navigate. Facebook has made improvements—not all voluntary—to its user privacy controls in recent years, particularly as more users wake up to the concerns of sharing vast amounts of personal data online. Old content poses similar problems and can also be a goldmine for anyone looking to compromise an account, whether for harassment purposes, identity theft or whatever else.
As social networks age, old posts and tagged content builds up, like a kind of digital plaque. For privacy purposes, scraping that stuff off regularly and cleaning things up is a good idea. And while you can’t really truly pry any information you’ve given up online away from companies like Facebook, getting more control over personal data that’s already out there is probably the next best thing.