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Facebook revamps privacy settings amid massive data breach

Facebook said it was taking additional steps in the coming weeks to put people in more control over their privacy.

tech Updated: Mar 28, 2018 23:49 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
HIndustan Times, Washington
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.
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. (AP File Photo)

Facebook on Wednesday unveiled a series of privacy settings to give users more control over how their data is shared and who can access it.

In a further bid to regain trust lost in the aftermath of a massive data scandal, CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to testify before the US Congress, after turning down an invitation from the British Parliament.

The social media giant is facing global outrage over reports, based on disclosures from a whistle-blower, that a quiz app harvested data from 50 million Facebook profiles and provided it to Cambridge Analytica.

“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,” Facebook’s chief privacy officer Erin Egan and deputy general counsel Ashlie Beringer wrote in a blog post.

“So in addition to Mark’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 in more control over their privacy,” the post said.

The company announced a revamped settings menu for mobile devices to make things easier to find. Instead of being “spread across nearly 20 different screens”, they will now be found together on one page.

It has also purged “outdated settings”, making it clear to subscribers to see and know what data will be shared with apps.

The company has also introduced a new “privacy shortcuts” menu, which allows users to bolster account login security, review and delete shared data, and control who can see their information.

Another new tool, “access your information”, will allow users to access their posted information such as comments, posts and reactions, and delete whatever they don’t want to leave on the social media platform.

Users can also download their data — photos, posts, comments and contacts — in a secure copy.

Facebook officials said the company plans to make its privacy policy easy to follow and understand through updates in the coming weeks.

The senate judiciary committee has asked Zuckerberg to appear on April 10 at a hearing on data privacy. The senate’s committee on commerce, science and transportation and the House’s committee on energy and commerce have also sought his testimony.