Facebook Tweaks Privacy Tools After Cambridge Analytica Scandal

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As crisis continues, Facebook announces new privacy tools to give people ‘more control’ over their data

Facebook said it is making its data settings and tools easier to find in an effort to help people better control who has access to their data.

The announcement comes as Facebook continues to fire fight on a daily basis to tackle the fallout from two weeks of bad publicity following the Cambridge Analytica data sharing scandal.

Facebook said it has now placed its privacy tools and controls in one place on mobile devices after it noted complaints that “that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find and that we must do more to keep people informed.”

Centralised controls

The announcement came in a blog posting from Erin Egan, VP and Chief Privacy Officer and Ashlie Beringer, VP and Deputy General Counsel.

“Last week showed how much more work we need to do to enforce our policies and help people understand how Facebook works and the choices they have over their data,” they wrote. “So in addition to Mark Zuckerberg’s announcements last week – cracking down on abuse of the Facebook platform, strengthening our policies, and making it easier for people to revoke apps’ ability to use your data – we’re taking additional steps in the coming weeks to put people more in control of their privacy.”

Both said these changes had been in the pipeline for a while now, but the Cambridge Analytica have underscored their importance.

They pointed out that going forward, privacy controls will be easier to find and use on mobile devices.

“We’ve redesigned our entire settings menu on mobile devices from top to bottom to make things easier to find,” they wrote. “Instead of having settings spread across nearly 20 different screens, they’re now accessible from a single place. We’ve also cleaned up outdated settings so it’s clear what information can and can’t be shared with apps.”

The two Facebook executives said they recognise that information about privacy, security, and ads should be much easier to find. Consequently “the new Privacy Shortcuts is a menu where you can control your data in just a few taps, with clearer explanations of how our controls work. The experience is now clearer, more visual, and easy-to-find.”

These shortcuts will allow people to make their account more secure with additional layers of protection. The shortcut will also allow people to better control their personal information, and control the ads they see.

Finally the shortcut will allow people to manage who sees their posts and profile information.

“We’re also making it easier to download the data you’ve shared with Facebook – it’s your data, after all,” they said.

Facebook backlash

It comes after the scale of Facebook’s data collection measures was revealed last week, which included logs of incoming and outgoing calls and SMS messages from Android phones, dating back years.

This has led some organisations, such as Mozilla, to this week to announce a plug-in for its Firefox browser to halt Facebook’s collection of data “via its network of trackers across the web.”

“It’s also our responsibility to tell you how we collect and use your data in language that’s detailed, but also easy to understand,” the Facebook executives admitted. “In the coming weeks, we’ll be proposing updates to Facebook’s terms of service that include our commitments to people. We’ll also update our data policy to better spell out what data we collect and how we use it. These updates are about transparency – not about gaining new rights to collect, use, or share data.”

Facebook is facing a number of regulatory inquiries.

Earlier this week CEO Mark Zuckerberg refused to face British MPs to answer questions over data abuse.

The US’ Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also plans to investigate Facebook over the misuse of data on 50 million users by Cambridge Analytica.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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