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Facebook says it will demystify data collection with a privacy settings overhaul


Facebook is unburying privacy settings and demystifying what, exactly, the network does with your data. On Wednesday. March 28, Facebook shared a list of changes to the platform’s privacy tools and expanded the list, sparked by the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The updates include a less cluttered, less buried privacy settings menu along with new data tools and will be followed up with changes to add more transparency to Facebook’s privacy practices.

While some changes are sparked by the Cambridge Analytica turmoil (which was followed by users downloading their data only to discover Facebook tracks phone calls, too), most will simply be pushed out ahead of schedule. Facebook already announced earlier this year that a new Privacy Center would be rolling out, in part to cooperate with new privacy laws in Europe, but that tool wasn’t originally scheduled to launch until May.

Now, Facebook users will begin seeing privacy setting changes over the next few weeks after recent events “underscore their importance,” the announcement says. The changes are in addition to what CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already announced and, Facebook says, don’t expand what the platform collects but simply make that data collection more clear.

The existing settings menu is on the left, with the redesign on the right Facebook

The first change is a settings menu overhaul that makes privacy settings easier to find, Facebook says. While the earlier menu had the options spread out over almost 20 screens, all the privacy options will now be located on a single screen.

That less cluttered menu will also be easier to find, Facebook says, with a new Privacy Shortcuts menu. Facebook says this change allows access to those settings in a few taps while also including “clearer explanations of how our controls work.” The shortcuts will include access to protection like two-factor authentication, reviewing and deleting the personal information Facebook has about you, controlling ad preferences, and managing settings on who sees your posts.

While Facebook already allows users to download their information, a new portal called Access Your Information will show just what data Facebook has, including the option to delete that data. The tool includes data on everything from posts to events and places to third-party app access.

Access Your Information Facebook

Finally, in the next few weeks, Facebook says it will share a list of proposed updates for the terms of service that will make the platform’s data collection practices more transparent, in response to the string of recent events that has users shocked at how much access third-party apps could (but no longer) have. That was followed by Android users realizing importing contacts into Messenger allowed Facebook to actually track calls and texts, too.

As Facebook faces #deletefacebook, several lawsuits, federal investigations, a serious drop in its stock price, and declining public trust, the company says it will continue updating users on related changes over the next few weeks.

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