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In a move that Facebook says was due to happen before the recent personal data harvesting scandal, the social media giant has updated its privacy tools to make users more informed and in control.
The high-profile outcry that followed revelations over data from 50 million profiles that were harvested for use by Cambridge Analytica has resulted in around £56bn being wiped off Facebook’s market value since 16 March.
Even though Facebook has suggested that privacy settings changes were on the cards long before this latest scandal hit the headlines, some commentators must feel justified in saying that it is no coincidence that Facebook have announced on their Blog this week, changes to the platform that are intended to help people understand how Facebook works and the choices they have over their data.
In summary, the changes that Facebook has announced are:
Facebook has also said that in the coming weeks, it will be proposing updates to its terms of service and its data policy to better spell out what data it collects and how it uses it. Facebook is keen, in the light of the recent scandal, to point out that the updates are about transparency, and not about gaining new rights to collect, use, or share data.
Some commentators have suggested that Facebook also intends to make the link to fully delete an account more prominent.
Facbook has acknowledged that it has lost peoples’ trust and it needs to get to work on regaining it, and no doubt, the hope is that these changes (that Facebook has worked on with regulators, legislators and privacy experts) are intended as an initial offering in the move to achieve that as well as to make the platform more GDPR-ready.
Yes, there is an element of Facebook needing to get something positive out there quickly to show that it’s doing something in response to media and public opinion about the damaging recent scandal. These changes are also, however, a clear move by Facebook to make sure that it will be GDPR compliant when the new regulation comes into force in May. The sheer size of Facebook’s customer base, and the company’s earnings mean that the company is very aware of the challenges that GDPR could bring e.g. with data breaches and with GDPR in force, Facebook could potentially be looking at fines of 4% of its global turnover. It’s no wonder, therefore, that the changes to the privacy settings of the platform have been made now.