Facebook has overhauled its Privacy Check-Up tool to highlight exactly how it’s using your personal data – and how you can limit its use. It also advises users on how their data can be used and displayed across the social network, so that Facebook users can make informed choices going forward.
To make the Privacy Check-Up tool a little more accessible, Facebook has divided-up everything into four separate sections. These are as follows…
Who Can See What You Share: Designed to help you review who can see your profile information, like your phone number and email address, as well as your posts.
How to Keep Your Account Secure: A section dedicated to helping you strengthen your account security by setting a stronger password and turning on login alerts.
How People Can Find You on Facebook: This one will let you review ways in which people can look you up on Facebook and who can send you friend requests.
Your Data Settings on Facebook: Finally, the broadest of the new sections, this one will let you review the information you share with apps you’ve logged into with Facebook. You can also remove the apps you no longer use – so ageing apps which asked you to login with Facebook when you installed them on your iPhone 4S all those years ago can be purged with a tap.
First rolled out in 2014, Facebook periodically refreshes its privacy-focused centre to streamline the process and make it easier to work out exactly what Mark Zuckerberg and co. are doing with your social media data. The privacy centre now includes password security tips – to help you create a unique password that prevents hackers from gaining access to your account, as well as a detailed breakdown of the information you’re sharing in the on-platform search.
Although the point-by-point breakdown is much clearer and should make these important toggles and controls more accessible, Facebook hasn’t gone as far as it promised. After promising the launch of a Clear History tool at its developer conference back in 2018, Facebook had only started to push-out the new service to three countries by September 2019.
Facebook continues to reorient itself around privacy following a spate of disastrous privacy breaches, culminating in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which saw the personal information of more than 87 million users worldwide scraped and used by UK-based political data firm Cambridge Analytica. The firm played an active role in the US Presidential election in 2016, which saw President Donald J Trump elected to the White House. It is also reported to have advised during the EU Referendum in 2016.
The scandal, which saw internets and personal information shared by Facebook users fed into complex data models to create new ways to target and persuade voters, was the subject of the Oscar-shortlisted Netflix documentary The Great Hack.
Following the scandal, Facebook took out full-page adverts in national newspapers in the United States and UK to apologise and push its Privacy Check-Up tools. It also placed warnings at the top of users News Feeds to promote the features and emailed those whose data had been siphoned off by Cambridge Analytica and used in the political campaigns. Despite this push, research shows only half of US Facebook users looked into changing their privacy settings.
There was also no significant drop-off in Facebook usage, despite the #DeleteFacebook social hashtag trending in the days following the first revelations about the scandal.