Facebook blames bug for disappearance of search history tool

A feature that let Facebook users view and delete their search histories has vanished from the site

A Facebook tool that allowed users to view and delete their search history on the site has vanished, and some people are keen to get it back.

The absence of the tool, which Facebook rolled out last September, was noticed by users last week and confirmed by Facebook on Tuesday. Its disappearance was caused by a bug and was not intentional, Facebook said. The company is working on a fix that will be rolled out "shortly."

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On Wednesday, Facebook said the bug had been fixed, and the search tool was back.

Devoted users of the missing feature grew impatient. Some begged Facebook to bring it back since talk of its absence hit the Web last Wednesday.

"Please put it back. It is really useful to keep tracks on [sic] who I am searching," a person wrote Tuesday on one of Facebook's message boards.

"I hope they didn't take away this feature. I need it back!" another said on a Yahoo website.

The tool let users view a list of their past searches on the site, although finding it was somewhat tricky. Before it disappeared, users could access it by clicking the "Activity Log" button on their Timeline profile, selecting "More" in the drop-down list on the left and finally clicking "Search."

Users would see a list of their recent searches for, say, people, places or interests, and could delete items if they wanted to. The search tool pre-dates Graph Search, which Facebook rolled out in January to a limited number of users to allow them to search for a variety of topics and interests based on their friends.

Although its disappearance was caused by a bug, some complained that users were left in the dark.

"This is an issue of a lack of transparency and control," said Sean Sullivan, security adviser with F-Secure Labs, a Finland-based online security company.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com.

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