Facebook wants to give users more data privacy amid global pressure

Johannesburg - The world’s biggest social network Facebook wants to give users more privacy over their data and control over what adverts are displayed on their timelines for the first time, after a strict ultimatum by the European Union in December.

Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan said in a company blog post that the social network would introduce a new education campaign to manage privacy settings and understand how data is used. 

“We’re also announcing plans to make your core privacy settings easier to find, and sharing our privacy principles for the first time. These principles guide our work at Facebook,” Egan said. 

Facebook’s new education videos will appear in users’ timelines and will feature topics like how to control what information Facebook uses to show you ads, how to review and delete old posts, and even what it means to delete a Facebook account.

“We’re also inviting people to take our Privacy Checkup and sharing privacy tips in education campaigns off Facebook, including ads on other websites. We’ll refresh our education campaigns throughout the year to give you tips on different topics,” Egan said. 

Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that the social network would make major changes by shifting users’ news feeds back toward posts from friends and family and away from businesses and media outlets. 

In December 2017, Facebook’s messaging service WhatsApp was given a one-month ultimatum by EU privacy authorities, which ordered it to stop sharing user data with its parent without the necessary consent.

France’s data protection authority CNIL gave a sharp warning to WhatsApp by issuing a formal notice criticising it for cooperating “insufficiently”.

The decision comes a year after EU privacy authorities said they had “serious concerns” about the sharing of WhatsApp user data for purposes not included in the terms of service and privacy policy as set out when people sign up to the service.

“Throughout 2018 we’re hosting workshops on data protection for small and medium businesses, beginning in Europe with a focus on the new General Data Protection Regulation,” Egan said. 

The first workshop was recently held in Brussels and a guide was published for frequently asked questions. 

In a recent blog post Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg said community feedback showed public content has been “crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other”.

Facebook’s product teams would now aim to help the more than 2 billion monthly users find content that will lead to more meaningful social interactions.

The company said it would introduce a new privacy centre this year that features core privacy settings in a single place, based on feedback from users, policymakers and privacy experts around the world.

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