Application security, Compliance Management, Network Security

Facebook says upgrades improve privacy, give users more control over data


After Facebook took a pounding last week in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica fiasco for lax policies in the way personal user data is collected, the company has hustled to restore trust.

The social media giant's first step was banishing the major players associated with the data analytics firm, followed by a mea culpa from CEO Mark Zuckerberg, then an expansion of its bug bounty program to include data misuse by app developers and now by raising the strength visibility of its privacy tools.

“We've redesigned our entire settings menu on mobile devices from top to bottom to make things easier to find. Instead of having settings spread across nearly 20 different screens, they're now accessible from a single place,” Facebook Vice President and Chief Privacy Officer (CPO) Erin Egan and Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Ashlie Beringer wrote in a blog post. “We've also cleaned up outdated settings so it's clear what information can and can't be shared with apps.”

Noting that many of the changes had been in the works for a while, the two said the company would make privacy and security policies easier to find with a new Privacy Shortcuts menu that would take users to relevant information in just a few clicks. From the menu, the post said, users can:

Make their accounts more secure by adding layers of protection, including two-factor authentication. Users will be notified if someone logs in to an account from an unrecognized device.

Control personal information by reviewing information and items that have been shared and deleted.  

Control the ads they see by managing the information Facebook uses to show users ads using an Ad preferences option.

Manage who sees posts and profile information. The social media company underscores that information belongs to the user.

Facebook also said it will offer a set of tools under “Access Your Information” that will let their users access, manage and delete comments, posts and other data.

“We're also making it easier to download the data you've shared with Facebook,” Egan and Beringer wrote. “You can download a secure copy and even move it to another service.”

In the future the company will change its terms of service so that users can understand how data is collected and used.

“We'll also update our data policy to better spell out what data we collect and how we use it,” the post said, noting that the company has worked with privacy experts, regulators and legislators to come up with tools and updates to improve privacy and avoid a scenario like the one that unfolded with Cambridge Analytica. “These updates are about transparency – not about gaining new rights to collect, use, or share data.”

We've worked with regulators, legislators and privacy experts on these tools and updates. We'll have more to share in the coming weeks, including updates on the measures Mark shared last week.

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