Under fire Facebook overhauls privacy settings

Greg Lawrence
March 30, 2018

On Wednesday, Facebook took what it called "the first of many steps" to address concerns, announcing changes to the way it presents privacy controls on the service in an attempt to appear more transparent to its 2.2 billion users.

Among the changes is a new Privacy Shortcuts menu where the user can control the data "in just a few taps".

Facebook shares are down almost 18 percent since 16 March, when it first acknowledged that user data had been improperly channelled to Cambridge Analytica, eating away almost $100 billion of the company's market value.

Facebook has announced a number of privacy changes to its platform in recent days following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, but the social network would have likely had to make the fixes anyway because of new upcoming legislation. It's doubtful that changing the look of its settings page will do anything to calm down users who have been upset with the way the company has been handling its data.

The company is rolling out a more centralized system for its privacy policy where users now will be able to control their privacy and security settings according to their requirements.

Instead of having settings spread across almost 20 different screens, they are now gathered in a single place. It claims that the experience is now now clearer, more visual, and easy-to-find.

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"We've also cleaned up outdated settings so it's clear what information can and can't be shared with apps", the pair added. The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) today issued a notice to social networking giant amid the major data breach. He said that most do not realize when they have opened their page to let third party apps access their data. Facebook, of course, suspended the Cambridge Analytica and is in the process of conducting investigations to ensure if all the personal data was deleted appropriately and wasn't used for electoral purposes.

Erin Egan-the Chief Privacy Officer and Ashlie Beringer-the Deputy General Counsel in a blog post mentioned that it has been heard very clearly that the privacy settings and other significant tools provided by Facebook are tough to find and that something should be done to keep people informed.

"It would be concerning in my mind if Facebook is designing and releasing a hardware device that uses facial recognition, as they already have one of the largest facial recognition databases in the world", Electronic Foundation attorney Jennifer Lynch told The Information.

The government has also sent a notice to Cambridge Analytica asking whether it has misused data to profile Indians and influence elections in the country. This product enables third party data providers to offer their targeting directly on Facebook.

The program allowed specific targeting of audiences using offline data about them in the U.S., Brazil, France, Germany, the U.K., Australia and Japan. In the coming weeks, we'll be proposing updates to Facebook's terms of service that include our commitments to people. They stress that the updates are all about transparency, not about new rights to collect, use, or share data.

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