Facebook announces new privacy steps, allows users to delete personal stored data

Whistleblower Christopher Wylie has claimed that Cambridge Analytica created psychological profiles on 50 million Facebook users via a personality prediction app.

Facebook announces new privacy steps, allows users to delete personal stored data
Pic courtesy: Reuters

Washington: Amid data breach backlash, Facebook said Wednesday that it will overhaul its privacy settings tools to put users "more in control" of their information. The updates include improved access to Facebook's user settings and tools to easily search for, download and delete personal data stored by them.

A new privacy shortcuts menu will allow users to quickly increase account security, manage who can see their information and activity on the site and control advertisements they see. "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," chief privacy officer Erin Egan and deputy general counsel Ashlie Beringer said in a post.

Following are excerpts of what they wrote:

"Last week showed how much more work we need to do to enforce our policies and help people understand how Facebook works and the choices they have over their data. So in addition to Mark Zuckerberg’s announcements last week - cracking down on abuse of the Facebook platform, strengthening our policies, and making it easier for people to revoke apps’ ability to use your data - we’re taking additional steps in the coming weeks to put people more in control of their privacy. Most of these updates have been in the works for some time, but the events of the past several days underscore their importance."

"We’ve redesigned our entire settings menu on mobile devices from top to bottom to make things easier to find. Instead of having settings spread across nearly 20 different screens, they’re now accessible from a single place. We’ve also cleaned up outdated settings so it’s clear what information can and can’t be shared with apps. People have also told us that information about privacy, security, and ads should be much easier to find. The new Privacy Shortcuts is a menu where you can control your data in just a few taps, with clearer explanations of how our controls work. The experience is now clearer, more visual, and easy-to-find."

"It’s one thing to have a policy explaining what data we collect and use, but it’s even more useful when people see and manage their own information. Some people want to delete things they’ve shared in the past, while others are just curious about the information Facebook has. So we’re introducing Access Your Information - a secure way for people to access and manage their information, such as posts, reactions, comments, and things you’ve searched for. You can go here to delete anything from your timeline or profile that you no longer want on Facebook. We’re also making it easier to download the data you’ve shared on Facebook - it’s your data, after all. You can download a secure copy and even move it to another service. This includes photos you’ve uploaded, contacts you’ve added to your account, posts on your timeline, and more."

The new features follow fierce criticism after it was alleged that millions of Facebook users' personal data were harvested by a British firm linked to Donald Trump`s 2016 campaign - although Facebook said they have been "in the works for some time."

Earlier in March 2018, whistleblower Christopher Wylie claimed that Cambridge Analytica created psychological profiles on 50 million Facebook users via a personality prediction app.

The app was downloaded by 270,000 people, but also scooped up their friends` data without consent - as was possible under Facebook`s rules at the time. it was claimed. 

(With AFP inputs)

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