Facebook begins privacy push ahead of tough new European law

Posted January 30, 2018

Facebook, in order to celebrate "Data Privacy Day", has made some announcements that will make it easier for users to manage their Privacy Settings.

Alongside the launch of its new privacy centre, Facebook has released a set of privacy principles, which it promises to abide by, and will be making educational videos to help teach people how to use the privacy controls.

"We're also inviting people to take our Privacy Checkup and sharing privacy tips in education campaigns off Facebook, including ads on other websites", Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, wrote in a blog post. Adding further he said that Facebook's privacy team regularly meets with legislators, privacy experts and regulators from around the world to get understanding of data policies and practices. Companies must also allow users to export their data and delete it.

Earlier this month CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged to "fix" Facebook by ensuring users saw more posts from people rather than brands as it seeks to maintain an audience that is aging and posting less amid fierce competition from new services such as Snapchat and Instagram, the latter of which is of course owned by Facebook.

The EU plans in May to implement new privacy laws, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The principles include giving users control of their data and keeping it secure from hackers. It's important that you have choices when it comes to how your data is used.

What are the privacy principles?

"As technology becomes more sophisticated, and as people's thinking about privacy becomes more sophisticated, they want to understand how their information is going to be used and they want to have control over it", said Rob Sherman, the company's deputy chief privacy officer. The new videos will appear in the News Feed in the near future.

The initiative is an example of how tech industry efforts to comply with the GDPR will spill over to users in the United States. While the GDPR is only EU-based, Facebook's new privacy settings will roll out to users worldwide.

"Our apps have always been focused on giving people transparency and control and this gives us a very good foundation to meet all the requirements of the GDPR and to spur us on to continuing investing in products and in educational tools to protect privacy", Sandberg said.