Due to some of its recent scandals, Facebook may not be the first company that comes to mind when you think of consumer privacy.
A Response to a Privacy Backlash
Some of the most recent and notable changes Facebook made came shortly after the news broke about the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
It became evident that the latter company used Facebook data from millions of user profiles for political advertising without permission. Even worse, Facebook knew about it for more than two years before the news became public.
Once the public realized how much of their data Facebook had, they started getting worried and felt unsure of how to stop the company from unnecessarily collecting more.
Within weeks of people learning about what happened with Cambridge Analytica, Facebook announced it was making its privacy tools more visible and user-friendly.
Changes to Align with the European Union’s Privacy Law
In May 2018, a privacy law called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect. It gives consumers more control over the data that companies collect about them.
In short, that meant users had to review how Facebook uses their data, plus make a couple of related tweaks. For example, people could confirm their choices about whether to show religious or political information in their Facebook profiles.
Those things sound like steps in the right direction. But, analysts pointed out numerous flaws. For example, the design and content of the new privacy sections seem to deter people from restricting Facebook’s access.
Clarifying Its Terms and Data Usage Policy
Facebook now aims to make its terms and data usage policy more straightforward, too.
The brand published a bulleted list that goes through the main things people need to know about it. It’s an undated page but likely came after or around the same time as the shifts mentioned in detail above.
The internet is the playground of people who like to distribute scam messages. Many do it across Facebook or similar channels and encourage others to share the post.
For more than five years, content has made the rounds on Facebook. It warns that the site will soon make all user content public. But, the message assures, people can avoid that if they post a particular message on their profiles.
But, Facebook users already give the company the right to use much of the content they post — in ways consistent with their privacy settings. So, posting that legal note on a profile doesn’t do anything, and Facebook isn’t making all user material public, anyway.
Moreover, during litigation for the Cambridge Analytica incident, a lawyer working for Facebook asserted that people give up a reasonable expectation of privacy by using the site. That statement contrasts with a March 2019 blog post from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that discussed his privacy-focused vision for social networking.
The Privacy-Related Outcomes of a Recent Ruling
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) analyzed what happened with Cambridge Analytica. Afterward, it gave Facebook a $5 billion fine for failing to adequately protect user data, including information used by third-party apps.
The company’s board will form an independent privacy committee that includes designated privacy compliance officers. In addition to monitoring from the FTC, an outside entity will review how Facebook collects data for the next two decades.
Then, every quarter, Zuckerberg and the privacy compliance officers will submit quarterly and annual privacy certifications to the FTC. They confirm the company’s compliance and subject it to civil and criminal penalties if such certifications are false.
Facebook released an associated official statement about the upcoming changes. It calls them “rigorous” and breaks down what’s new into a three-tiered structure.
It’s too soon to say how Facebook users may notice more updates to how the brand handles their data. But, this overview gets you informed about all the most recent major privacy changes, plus things in the pipeline.
The information should help you decide how — or if — to use Facebook.