Facebook Details Revamped Privacy Tools to Put Users ‘More in Control’ of Their Data

ollowing revelations that emerged last week about Facebook’s misuse of user data, the company today said it has “heard loud and clear” that it needs to make it easier for users to know how to control their own privacy settings and data. These updates to Facebook mobile and on the web “have been in the works for some time,” according to Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan, “but the events of the past several days underscore their importance.”

The first update is found in a redesigned settings menu on mobile devices, so instead of settings that are spread across “nearly 20 different screens,” they’re all in one place. This area is also now cleaned up so outdated menus are gone and it’s more clear what user information can and can’t be shared with apps.

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The old settings menu (left) and new settings menu (right)

A new Privacy Shortcuts menu launches users into an area where they can look at information regarding privacy, security, and ads “in just a few taps.” This menu is also now clearer, has more visuals, and provides simple explanations for how each control option works. Below you’ll find a breakdown of everything you can do when jumping into Privacy Shortcuts:

Make your account more secure: You can add more layers of protection to your account, like two-factor authentication. If you turn this on and someone tries to log into your account from a device we don’t recognize, you’ll be asked to confirm whether it was you.

Control your personal information: You can review what you’ve shared and delete it if you want to. This includes posts you’ve shared or reacted to, friend requests you’ve sent, and things you’ve searched for on Facebook.

Control the ads you see: You can manage the information we use to show you ads. Ad preferences explains how ads work and the options you have.

Manage who sees your posts and profile information: You own what you share on Facebook, and you can manage things like who sees your posts and the information you choose to include on your profile.

In a new area called Access Your Information, users can access and manage data — like posts, timeline memories, items on a profile, reactions, comments, and items searched for — so that it can be easily deleted. Facebook said it’s also making it easier to download the data shared on the site. Users can download a secure copy of photos uploaded, contacts, timeline posts, and more, “and even move it to another service.”

Next, the company said that it plans to update its terms of service with the inclusion of “commitments to people,” as well as update its data policy to “better spell out” what data is collected and how it’s used. In total, Facebook said that all of these updates are about transparency, and “not about gaining new rights to collect, use, or share data.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook this past weekend described the Facebook scandal as “dire,”calling for stronger privacy regulations in the wake of news that data firm Cambridge Analytica amassed data on 50 million Facebook users without their consent and targeted messages to voters during the 2016 presidential election. Facebook has now delayed the launch of its own entry into the smart speaker market, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify in front of Congress on privacy in the coming weeks.

 

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