Facebook introduces new tools to let people delete and see their data as scandal continues

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 28 March 2018 13:06
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Mark Zuckerberg on Cambridge Analytica: 'I'm really sorry'

Facebook will give people new ways of seeing and deleting the data it collects on its users, it has said.

The latest development comes as the social network continues to try and stop the damage from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, through which it became clear that the site was collecting many of its users’ most sensitive and personal information.

Now it says it will add new features in the next few weeks that will change the site’s terms of service and its data policy so that people can see how their data is being collected. It will also give people new ways of deleting what has been collected and stopping further information being harvested, it claimed.

Those tools will allow people to delete data selectively, as well as removing their account entirely, Facebook’s announcement appeared to suggest.

“Some people want to delete things they’ve shared in the past, while others are just curious about the information Facebook has,” it wrote. “So we’re introducing Access Your Information – a secure way for people to access and manage their information, such as posts, reactions, comments, and things you’ve searched for. You can go here to delete anything from your timeline or profile that you no longer want on Facebook.”

Some of those new features are required by GDPR, the new data regulation being introduced by the EU in May that could hit companies such as Facebook.

More changes will be announced in the coming weeks, Facebook said in the blog post, which was titled It’s Time to Make Our Privacy Tools Easier to Find.

The company has faced a global outcry after a whistleblower said that data from millions of users was improperly harvested by consultancy Cambridge Analytica to target US and British voters in close-run elections.

Facebook shares are down nearly 18 per cent since 16 March, when it first acknowledged that user data had been improperly channelled to Cambridge Analytica, eating away nearly $100bn (£71bn) of the company’s market value.

“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, said in a statement.

In addition to redesigning its settings menu on mobile devices, Facebook said it is creating a new privacy shortcut menu where users would be able to better secure their accounts and control personal information. It would also allow users to review and delete data they have shared, including posts and search queries.

Users would be able to download the data shared with Facebook, including uploaded photos, contacts added to their account and posts on timelines.

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