Facebook reveals new security settings amid privacy concerns

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

New York - Facebook said it will make it more straightforward for users to change their privacy settings and delete data they’ve already shared with the social media company.

The announcement is part of Facebook’s efforts to answer the firestorm of criticism that’s arisen in the wake of revelations that data from 50 million people was accessed by political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica without their permission.

Chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg plans to testify in front of the US Congress in the coming weeks, and the company has delayed unveiling a new home speaker product to reevaluate how it uses user data, according to people familiar with the matter.

Shares were up 1.9% in early trading at 07:36 in New York. The social media giant’s stock has fallen 18% since the Cambridge Analytica news broke earlier this month.

Most of the security page updates have been in the works for some time, Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan and deputy general counsel Ashlie Beringer wrote in a statement on Wednesday, “but the events of the past several days underscore their importance”. The new system will allow users to access settings from a single place instead of having to go to some 20 different screens.

Too complicated to understand

Facebook has produced multiple iterations to its privacy settings pages over the years, often in response to criticism that the system is too complicated for most people to understand what they are and aren’t sharing. From the new setting page, people will be able to delete specific things they’ve shared or liked in the past, stopping advertisers from having access to that information.

Users still won’t be able to delete data that they had given third-party apps on the platform previously, even if it was used for reasons other than what users agreed to.

That data, downloaded over years of Facebook users freely giving apps such as games and personality quizzes access to their information, is largely still stored outside Facebook’s grasp by the private individuals and companies who built those applications.

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