Digital Transformation

Facebook makes data privacy tools easier to find as Cambridge Analytica tremors rumble on


By Rebecca Stewart | Trends Editor

March 28, 2018 | 4 min read

As tremors from Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal continue to reverberate, the social network has made it clearer for users to access and control their data privacy settings.

Image of computers at Facebook's first dedicated data center in Prineville, Oregon

Facebook has made changes across three key areas / Facebook

Facebook has made changes across three key areas by: simplifying its settings menu; adding a new privacy shortcuts dashboard and updating users' data download and editing privileges.

The company claims that the update has been "in the works" for some time, but that recent events have underscored their importance.

In a blog post, Facebook explained how it has redesigned its entire settings menu on mobile devices to make things easier to find. Instead of having settings spread across almost 20 different screens as it did before they’re now accessible from a single place.

When it comes to privacy shortcuts, users will have access to a "clearer, more visual" system that allows them to do things like control the ads they are served, control who sees their profile and personal information and add extra layers of protection - such as two-factor authentication - to their account.

Finally, Facebook is introducing tools which make it claims make it easier for users to find, download and delete the data the social giant has stored on them. It's calling this new system 'Access Your Information'.

Users will be able to see all posts, reactions, comments, and things they've searched for in this section.

"You can go here to delete anything from your timeline or profile that you no longer want on Facebook," the company wrote in the announcement.

The move comes in the wake of a Guardian and Observer investigation which alleged that in 2013 that academic Dr Aleksandr Kogan used a quiz app to harvest the data of 50 million users, before passing it on to data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.

While both parties have denied explicit wrongdoing, Facebook and Cambridge Analytica are facing whistleblower claims this data was used to support Donald Trump's 2016 presidential election campaign, with the latter firm also being said to have yielded influence over other democratic votes including the EU referendum.

After the story broke last week it took founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg five days to issue a statement on the matter, his apology was later printed in several UK newspapers as a #DeleteFacebook motion gained traction online.

Zuckerberg had been tipped to face UK MPs, but he is instead sending one his most senior execs, the company's chief product officer Chris Cox. In the US, the FTC has confirmed it is investigating the company's data practices.

Facebook has said that in the coming weeks, it will be proposing updates to its terms of service, but it was vague on what these might include.

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