Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress last month. Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Facebook said Tuesday that in the coming months it would let users see and wipe the data fed into its ad targeting system by outside websites and applications.

Why it matters: Facebook is grappling with a data privacy reckoning after the Cambridge Analytica scandal focused a spotlight on its relations with external developers.

What they're saying:

  • "This feature will enable you to see the websites and apps that send us information when you use them, delete this information from your account, and turn off our ability to store it associated with your account going forward," said Erin Egan, who the company recently said would focus full-time on her role as Chief Privacy Officer.
  • If a user deletes this information, it will no longer be associated with their account — although Facebook says it will continue to give outside parties broad analytics reports.
  • Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg called the new control a "Clear History" option, similar to what web browsers offer, and said in a post that when users take advantage of it, "Facebook won't be as good while it relearns your preferences."

The announcement comes ahead of Facebook's F8 conference and after Zuckerberg took a beating on privacy issues in Washington. "One thing I learned from my experience testifying in Congress is that I didn't have clear enough answers to some of the questions about data," he said.

Yes, but: Facebook's ad targeting system is highly complicated, so the devil will be in the details here. Watch for privacy advocates to keep a close eye on what Facebook is building.

Go deeper: Facebook's trackers are very prevalent around the web — and they're not alone

Go deeper

Senate passes bill funding government through December

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to fund the federal government through Dec. 11, by a vote of 84-10.

Where it stands: The legislation will avert a government shutdown before funding expires Wednesday night and before the Nov. 3 election. The House passed the same measure last week by a vote of 359-57 after House Democrats and the Trump administration agreed on the resolution.

  • Both sides agreed early in negotiations that the bill should be a "clean" continuing resolution — meaning each party would only make small changes to existing funding levels so the measure would pass through both chambers quickly, Axios' Alayna Treene reported last week. The bill now goes to President Trump for signature.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
29 mins ago - Technology

The age of engineering life begins

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Synthetic biology startups raised some $3 billion through the first half of 2020, up from $1.9 billion for all of 2019, as the field brings the science of engineering to the art of life.

The big picture: Synthetic biologists are gradually learning how to program the code of life the way that computer experts have learned to program machines. If they can succeed — and if the public accepts their work — synthetic biology stands to fundamentally transform how we live.

Biden will allow lobbyists to join transition team

Biden speaks at a campaign stop at Pittsburgh Union Station Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden's presidential transition office will allow lobbyists to help shape his potential administration, but will require them to receive a waiver to participate if they engaged in lobbying activity in the last twelve months.

Why it matters: Presidential transition teams are instrumental in establishing a new administration, and the rules that govern them are often a template for the ethics guidelines that the new administration imposes after the inauguration.