Privacy controls now in 20 different places on Facebook’s app will be merged into a single page and include what the company says will be easier-to-comprehend features explaining how the company is using a person’s data.
Facebook is making it simpler for people to control how their data is used after a massive privacy scandal has shaken the company and caused its stock price to drop 15 percent.
In the coming months, privacy controls that are now in 20 different places on Facebook’s app will be merged into a single page, and will include what the company says will be easier-to-comprehend features that explain how the company is using a person’s data, the company said Wednesday.
Facebook will also create a page that makes it easier for people to download their data so that they can more clearly view what information the company collects about them.
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“The last week showed how much more work we need to do to enforce our policies, and to help people understand how Facebook works and the choices they have over their data,” Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, and Ashlie Beringer, a Facebook deputy general counsel, said in a statement announcing the new system. “We’ve heard loud and clear that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find, and that we must do more to keep people informed.”
The changes, which the company says have been in the works for several months, are primarily redesigns that streamline already-existing features. The social network already gives consumers the ability to download their data and control many privacy settings, albeit in a confusing way.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal has plunged Facebook into its worst crisis in years, with regulators and lawmakers in the U.S. and Britain demanding answers about how the social network deals with data privacy.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, has agreed to appear in front of lawmakers on Capitol Hill next month, people familiar with the decision have said.
Late Wednesday, Facebook also said that it was halting its practice of allowing advertisers to target ads using information from third-party data brokers. These are business-to-business companies that can collect a range of details about individual consumers such as their shopping habits, health concerns, income and preferred credit card.
How much of a difference these actions may make to Facebook’s data privacy practices was unclear. Some privacy advocates noted, for instance, that the company’s new centralized privacy and security settings page has been tried in the past.
“The platform made similar promises many times before,” said Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina who studies how technology affects society. In 2010, Zuckerberg said in The Washington Post that Facebook users needed simpler controls over their privacy and had promised then that Facebook would “add privacy controls that are much simpler to use.”
Yet eight years later, the same concerns have resurfaced, Tufekci said.
“The past decade shows that user concerns over privacy appear to have little teeth on changing how the platform behaves, aside from a recycling of contrite statements and promises to do better from its CEO,” she said.