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Facebook announces privacy tools to ‘put people in more control’ of data

In Others, Technology

Facebook is launching a range of new tools in an effort to “put people in more control over their privacy” in the buildup to new EU regulations that tighten up data protection.

The changes come after a troubling two weeks for the company, which is battling with the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica files. At least one of the new features, a unified privacy dashboard, was previously discussed by Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, back in January.

“The last week showed how much more work we need to do to enforce our policies, and to help people understand how Facebook works and the choices they have over their data,” two Facebook executives wrote in a blogpost announcing the changes. “We’ve heard loud and clear that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find, and that we must do more to keep people informed.”

Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, and Ashlie Beringer, its deputy general counsel, continued: “Most of these updates have been in the works for some time, but the events of the past several days underscore their importance.” The features will be available to all users, not just those in countries covered by the EU general data protection regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect on 25 May.

On mobile devices, Facebook users will now be able to find all their settings in a single place, rather than spread across “nearly 20 different screens” as they were before. They will also be able to find a separate item, the “privacy shortcuts” menu, which provides a clearing house for options about data protection, ad personalisation and on-platform privacy.

The site is also complying with rules about access to stored personal data with a new “access your information” tool, that allows people to find, download and delete Facebook data.

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