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Facebook Privacy Boosted As French Watchdog Dismisses Message ‘Bug’

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe’s Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

French data protection watchdog says claims of a bug revealing private messages on users’ walls are nonsense

Facebook has launched a set of new tools designed to help users track their complaints and learn more about how to protect their information from prying eyes, following continued criticism of its privacy efforts.

Last month, reports claimed that users’ old private messages were showing up on profile pages for anyone to see, although Mark Zuckerburg’s firm strongly denied it. The French privacy watchdog, CNIL, has now dismissed those claims, backing up Facebook’s claim of innocence.

CNIL concluded that the messages users were complaining about were simply wall-to-wall posts and not private. Users should exercise more caution on social networks, it said.

The company continues to battle with other regulators across Europe. Earlier this month, Facebook disabled the Tag Suggest facial recognition feature for all new users in the European Union (EU), thanks to pressure from the Irish Data Protection Commissioner. Overall, the commissioner’s report on Facebook was widely positive, indicating he was happy with the direction in which the social network is heading.

In the US, Facebook recently agreed a $9.5 million settlement with plaintiffs of a class action lawsuit which alleged the social network had violated its member’s privacy rights.

A Facebook privacy boost

The new tools launched yesterday should help users improve Facebook privacy and include a redesigned help centre, with a “Learn the Privacy Basics” section.

“We can also personalise these topics based on how you are using Facebook. For example, if you’re not logged into Facebook, you may see information about how to create an account or tips on resetting your Facebook password,” a blog post from the social networking giant read.

Facebook has also made the Support Dashboard available to 100 percent of Facebook users. “Once you report content to us using the report links, you’ll be able to see the Support Dashboard in your ‘Account Settings’. From your Support Dashboard you can see when we review your report, what action we took and why we took that action. We’ll also send you a notification when the status of your report changes,” Facebook explained.

“The reports you make enable our team to quickly and effectively remove abusive content from Facebook.”

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