Facebook Takes 'First of Many Steps' for Privacy

Privacy tools overhaul is in wake of multiple controversies, and to prep for tighter EU rules
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 28, 2018 10:15 AM CDT
In this photo from Monday, a man poses for photos in front of a computer showing Facebook ad preferences pages in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
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(Newser) – Facebook is giving its privacy tools a makeover as it reels from criticisms over its data practices and faces tighter European regulations in the coming months. The changes won't affect Facebook's privacy policies or the types of data it gathers on users. But the company hopes its 2.2 billion users will have an easier time navigating its complex and often confusing privacy and security settings. Facebook says it also wants to give users a simpler way to access and download the data it collects on them, the AP reports. Facebook's chief privacy officer, Erin Egan, said in a blog post that most of the privacy updates have been in the works for "some time, but the events of the past several days underscore their importance." Facebook also said it plans to update its privacy policy and terms of service in the coming weeks, but it gave no further details.

Chris Cox, Facebook's chief product officer, called the new settings "the first of many steps" the company is taking to address privacy concerns. Facebook has been working on the changes in preparation for the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, which was approved two years ago and takes effect May 25. The rules are designed to make it easier for consumers to give and withdraw consent for the use of their data. They apply to any company that collects data on EU residents, no matter where it's based. Wednesday's announcement follows revelations that a Trump-affiliated consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, got data on millions of Facebook users and that Facebook has collected years of contact names, telephone numbers, and call and text histories from Android users. On Monday, the FTC said it's investigating Facebook over its privacy practices.

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