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Facebook rolls out new privacy tools to regain your trust

by Justin Herrick | March 28, 2018March 28, 2018 1:00 pm PST

Facebook knows a lot about you, which seems obvious but not everyone cared to acknowledge that until recently.

The company found itself at the center of controversy earlier this month when consulting firm Cambridge Analytica was exposed for grabbing personal information from users without their permission. Making things worse was the decision by some media outlets to say Facebook collects call and text history but doesn’t tell users, a claim that Facebook immediately shot down.

Since it’s a platform used by billions of people worldwide, Facebook is now facing calls to appear in front of Congress and explain its business practices. As it decides what to say to the U.S. government, Facebook is rolling out enhanced privacy tools to users everywhere.

All of these new features, according to Facebook, have been in development “for some time” but the ongoing situation pushed them to be finished as soon as possible.

Now it’s easier to find data settings and tools. The entire settings menu on mobile devices has been redesigned. Facebook says almost twenty different screens have been brought into a single place on the app. Also, knowing what personal information third-party apps connected to Facebook can view should be much clearer.

One feature getting a name of its own is Access Your Information. As the name indicates, you’re able to look at previous posts, reactions, comments, and searches. Then you can delete anything from your profile if necessary.

Facebook didn’t stop there, fortunately. It extended changes to information on privacy, security, and ads. Users can make their accounts more secure, control what personal information is shared, and manage the data used to show ads. A lot of this has already been available on Facebook’s web and mobile apps, but the company is making everything more visible.

There’s also the option to download the data you’ve shared with Facebook. The secure copy includes “photos you’ve uploaded, contacts you’ve added to your account, posts on your timeline, and more.”

In the coming weeks, Facebook will put forth updates to its end-user license agreement. The company explicitly said it’ll “include our commitments to people” and also edit its data policy so you know what data is collected and how it’s used. Facebook aims to restore trust with users by being transparent, but who knows if tweaked menus and lengthy explanations will actually do much.

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Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...

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