Open Bug 308483 Opened 14 years ago Updated 4 years ago

clear search history option can be misleading, because it also doesn't clear history

Categories

(Firefox :: Search, enhancement, P3)

enhancement

Tracking

()

People

(Reporter: iwj, Unassigned)

Details

(Keywords: privacy, uiwanted, Whiteboard: [fxsearch])

User-Agent:       Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.7.8) Gecko/20050513 Debian/1.7.8-1
Build Identifier: firefox 1.0.6-ubuntu13

The `clear search history' option (on the context menu in the search box) has
two problems:

1. If invoked, it does not immediately save the updated profile, so a subsequent
crash can undo the clear.

2. When invoked, the normal browser history still contains the URLs for the
search results pages.  This completely defeats the effect unless the user knows
to clear the browser history.

Both of these problems mean that the feature is a privacy risk, as it can lead
to a false sense of security.  The first is easy to fix.  The second is harder:
the only correct approach would be to clear all relevant entries from the
browser history or perhaps to ask the user whether to clear the browser history too.

Reproducible: Always

Steps to Reproduce:
To reproduce 1:
1. Start firefox
2. Check that some saved search info is present (eg by watching for completion
in the search box)
3. Select `clear search history' from the search box context menu
4. Send firefox a SIGKILL
5. Restart firefox
6. Observe that the search history is still present

For problem 2:
1. Start firefox
2. Check that some saved search info is present (eg by watching for completion
in the search box)
3. Select `clear search history'
4. Observe that the browser history still records the search (eg by starting
typing http://www.google.co.uk/.... in the location bar and watching the
completions)



I will disable the `clear search history' option for Ubuntu Breezy (our next
stable release).

This issue is recorded in the Ubuntu bugzilla:
https://bugzilla.ubuntu.com/show_bug.cgi?id=13322
Status: UNCONFIRMED → NEW
Ever confirmed: true
In 1.5, the first problem I mention (that the profile is not immediately saved) has been fixed.  The second, harder, problem remains.
OS: Linux → All
Hardware: PC → All
Summary: clear search history is misleading and buggy → clear search history is misleading
I'm not sure that people really expect that clearing the search bar history also clears their history of result page views, especially given the fact that "Clear private data" also includes "Browsing History".

I'm not sure what would be the best way to fix this bug. I don't think any of your suggested fixes for 2) (prompting, or selectively clearing history) are appropriate. Would renaming the menu item to "Clear search bar history" instead of "Clear search history" satisfy your concerns?
Keywords: privacy
Summary: clear search history is misleading → clear search history is misleading, because it also doesn't clear history
Version: unspecified → Trunk
Maybe 'Clear autocomplete entries' or something (I think I've seen that used somewhere)? Or maybe that's too complicated?
(In reply to :Gavin Sharp (use gavin@gavinsharp.com for email) from comment #2)
> Would renaming the menu item to "Clear search bar history"
> instead of "Clear search history" satisfy your concerns?

uiwanted: should we do this?
Keywords: uiwanted
Severity: normal → enhancement
Priority: -- → P3
Summary: clear search history is misleading, because it also doesn't clear history → clear search history option can be misleading, because it also doesn't clear history
Whiteboard: [fxsearch]
Rank: 33
You need to log in before you can comment on or make changes to this bug.