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JD Lasica/Flickr (CC-BY)
A new control center will bring transparency to privacy settings.
Facebook on Sunday said it would roll out a new global privacy center, a single page for all core privacy settings that lets users choose who sees their posts and what ads they’re shown. The control center will be designed based on feedback from people, policymakers, and privacy experts, the social network claims. Facebook did not, however, offer any details about the feature or explain whether any improvements were being made to its current privacy policies.
The addition comes as companies brace for the European Union’s strict privacy rules set to take effect on May 25 under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Adopted in April 2016, the rules will prevent companies from using personal information without consent and give users the right to retrieve a copy of data held about them within 30 days of filing a request. Under “right to be forgotten” provisions, people can ask companies to remove certain data about them. Companies must also report cybersecurity breaches within 72 hours. Firms that fail to comply with any of the rules face fines of up to 4 percent of their global annual revenue or 20 million euros ($24.8 million), whichever amount is higher.
As part of its “educational campaign,” Facebook started adding short explainer videos in News Feeds to show you how to use privacy settings, like how to control what information Facebook uses to show ads, how to review and delete old posts, and how to delete your account.
Additionally, the company—for the first time ever—published its “privacy principles,” which include goals like “We give you control of your privacy” and “We work hard to keep your information secure.” It also acknowledges that the company is accountable for maintaining your privacy. The move will surely be viewed by some critics as a PR stunt to show off to European regulators who are looking through a microscope at data-rich companies like Google and Facebook.
“We recognize that people use Facebook to connect, but not everyone wants to share everything with everyone – including with us. It’s important that you have choices when it comes to how your data is used,” Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, wrote in a blog post.
The company claims the additions aren’t related to the E.U.’s new rules, but Sheryl Sandberg, its chief operating officer, said in a speech last week that the privacy center would give Facebook a “very good foundation to meet all the requirements of the GDPR and to spur us on to continue investing in products and in educational tools to protect privacy.”
Google and Microsoft also released new privacy dashboards ahead of the GDPR enforcement date. Facebook didn’t say when its mysterious new privacy center would launch, only that it is coming “this year.”
You can read all of Facebook’s privacy principles on its new website.
Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.