Clearing Your Facebook Search History

Bring back an ounce of your privacy

Man with binoculars

John Long / Getty Images

You've no doubt already heard a lot about Facebook's Graph Search Tool. It's that creepy new search function that lets you search for all kinds of weird stuff. To see some of the strange things that people are searching for, check out the Actual Facebook Graph Searches Tumblr. It will give you some ideas of the realm of possibilities that are available.

Facebook's Graph Search is a powerful data mining tool. One of the big things that graph search does is mine other people's profile information and 'like' data. Is this a bad thing? Likes and profile information is pretty harmless stuff, right? Not really.

Scammers and other bad guys are likely salivating over all the new connections and correlations they can make via Graph Search. Graph search creates a huge treasure trove of what is known as Open-source Intelligence (OSINT). OSINT is basically intelligence data about people that is publicly available for the world to see and have access to. Unless you have removed a lot of personal information from your profile or made all your likes private, then there is probably a lot of OSINT available about you via Facebook's Graph Search. 

Removing sensitive personal information from your profile and hiding likes can help remove you from some graph searches, but what about searches you've made?

Surely they're not recording what searches you make using Graph Search, are they? Yes, they are. That's right, all those weird things you've been looking for in graph search are part of your Facebook Activity log. Relax, these searches are default set to be only viewable by you, but that doesn't mean that they don't exist. They are still in your log and Facebook still has access to them. If you left your Facebook account open at on a friends computer, they could go and check your activity log to see what you've been searching for.

How Can You Clear Your Facebook Graph Search History?

Follow these simple steps to remove your Graph Search history:

  1. Log in to Facebook and click on your timeline page by clicking on your name or profile picture in the top left-hand corner of the screen.
  2. In your cover photo, click on the Activity Log button in the bottom right-hand corner of the photo.
  3. Place a check in the checkbox next to the words Include Only Me Activity near the top of the page (this is a very important step as your search activity won't be displayed in the next step unless this box is checked).
  4. On the left-hand side of the activity log page, click the More link under the section of the menu underneath Photos, Likes, Comments.
  5. After the list expands, choose the Search option at the bottom of the expanded list.
  6. The search activity log should appear showing any searches you have made. To clear all your search history, click the Clear Searches link at the top right-hand corner of the page (under the blue bar).
  7. Facebook will then present you with a warning asking "Are you sure you want to clear all your searches?" It will also tell you that "Only you can see your searches, and they're used to show you more relevant results". Once this change is made it cannot be undone. To complete the process click the blue Clear Searches button to confirm.

You need to remember that this doesn't disable search logging, it just clears what you've already searched for. You'll probably want to repeat this process on a periodic basis.