Facebook to Improve Privacy Controls Worldwide

Posted on April 18, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Social with 10 Comments

Facebook to Improve Privacy Controls Worldwide

Facebook announced that it will meet the legal requirements of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect in late May. The good news? The resulting privacy improvements will impact all of Facebook’s users worldwide.

“We not only want to comply with the law, but also go beyond our obligations to build new and improved privacy experiences for everyone on Facebook,” Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan writes in a post describing the firm’s plans. “Everyone—no matter where they live—will be asked to review important information about how Facebook uses data and make choices about their privacy on Facebook.”

As part of its GDPR-required changes, Facebook will ask users to make choices about ads based on data from its partners, information in their profile, whether to allow facial recognition, and to agree to an updated terms of service and data policy.

“We’re not asking for new rights to collect, use or share your data on Facebook, and we continue to commit that we do not sell information about you to advertisers or other partners,” Egan explains. “While the substance of our data policy is the same globally, people in the EU will see specific details relevant only to people who live there, like how to contact our Data Protection Officer under GDPR. We want to be clear that there is nothing different about the controls and protections we offer around the world.”

In addition, Facebook had previously announced a new set of Settings and Privacy Shortcuts features that were also designed with GDPR in mind. These features will help users worldwide to see their Facebook data, delete it, and easily download and export it. I wrote about this experience recently in Dealing with Facebook (Premium).

“We’re committed to making sure people understand how we use their information and how they can control it,” Egan concluded. “We’ll keep improving.”

These changes will start rolling out, first in Europe, this week, Facebook says. That is ahead of the May 25 deadline for GDPR compliance.


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Comments (10)

10 responses to “Facebook to Improve Privacy Controls Worldwide”

  1. Jeffery Commaroto

    Window dressing. Facebook has a long history of saying something along the lines of, “We will make it easier for our users to take control of their privacy starting.... now.”

    The reality is that all of these companies will continue to harvest massive amounts of data on everyone and sell that data or access to solutions built on that data to the highest bidder. It is a shame so much attention is being paid directly to Facebook and Cambridge Analytica as there is a much larger sea of issues we need to address. We all lost every ounce of our privacy many years ago.

    Facebook specifically is spinning by saying they won’t “sell” their user data to third-parties but they will continue to sell access to it through their ad platform. This is all a win for them in the long run because it puts Facebook in complete control and silences any claims of anticompetitive behavior. They are locking up the market to “benefit” their users. Facebook also announced they won’t directly give marketers access to third-party data layering through their ad platform anymore. That doesn’t mean they won’t use third-party data sources to enhance their advertising services hidden in the backend. A slight of hand move that will make them less transparent not more.

    • Bart

      In reply to Jeffery_Commaroto:

      Agreed. Good the EU came up with new regulation, but the problem with rules is, there is always a way around it. And I am pretty certain FB is looking for loopholes

      • Jeffery Commaroto

        In reply to Bart:

        The other issue is going to be actual enforcement and any meaningful penalties. Agencies and small businesses will be decimated by fines. The large companies, meh. They will fight for years in court and then take the penalties as a slap on the wrist or cost of doing business.

        Meanwhile most governments themselves are horrible at protecting citizen data. Look at the US. The healthcare exchange website was a data leaking malware distributer when it was launched. The industries the government already heavily regulate like utilities are constantly being hacked. The NSA charged with securing our communications had its entire global eavesdropping system compromised by a single contractor with a flash drive.

        Our Congress is bought and sold by these companies which they barelyunderstand but rely on now to run successful political campaigns.

        I don’t see much evidence Europe is in any better of a position to add real governance. China wants all of this data to further its authoritarian control over its people and quell dissent.

        Ultimately we individually are responsible for the few areas where we have control. Meaning we will have to start making choices about whether blanketing our homes in cameras and microphones and sharing our most intimate details online is worth whatever benefit these technologies bring us. We also have to make those decisions knowing full well the data is likely there for the taking regardless of what we do.

    • Simard57

      In reply to Jeffery_Commaroto:

      "We all lost every ounce of our privacy many years ago."

      we haven't lost our privacy, we traded it!

  2. jimchamplin

    The problem with Facebook’s “settings” is one must wonder if they’re actually hooked up to anything. Are they just dummy switches to provide a placebo?

  3. Daekar

    Yeah... good for them. I'm still not going to use Facebook. May their datacenters fall prey to unlikely and unfortunate disasters.

  4. davidblouin

    Great now if they can make it so that when you start a Facebook game for the first time it scream "YOUR DATA WILL BE SHARED TO US AND YOUR FACEBOOK FRIEND'S DATA TOO IF YOU CLICK CONTINUE." a la Cortana on the Win10 setup screen, so we can stop with this nonsense for eternity.

  5. Bart

    Today, Facebook announced that the ToS will be updated. As far as I can tell, this means US citizens won't benefit from the new, better privacy regulations forced upon Facebook by the EU. Just proves this company will do anything to get your data.

    Excuse my French, but this company sucks!

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