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Facebook's new privacy settings

29 March 2018

Facebook announced Wednesday morning that it will be revamping its privacy settings on mobile devices in the coming weeks to make it easier for users to access their personal information.

"Last week showed how much more work we need to do to enforce our policies and help people understand how Facebook works and the choices they have over their data", said Facebook's chief privacy officer Erin Egan, and deputy general counsel Ashlie Beringer, in a blog post explaining the privacy changes.

There is a new Facebook page - called Access Your Information - where users can see what they have shared and manage it.

Facebook is giving users more control over their privacy by making data management easier and redesigning the settings menu, the company says.

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Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly apologized for the mistakes the company made and has promised to crack down on abuse of the Facebook platform and restrict developers' access to user information.

Jennifer Grygiel, a Syracuse University professor of communications, said the new privacy settings and tools "are so obviously important to users that one has to wonder why this wasn't already done".

The company hopes its 2.2 billion users will have an easier time navigating its complex and often confusing privacy and security settings.

The new controls will be easier to find and use, Facebook said, with all settings now available to access in a single place rather than spread across almost 20 different screens.

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"You can go here to delete anything from your timeline or profile that you no longer want on Facebook", the company wrote in the announcement.

Facebook has this morning announced it will discontinue its partner categories program which enables third-party data providers such as Experian, Acxiom and Quantium to target the social media service's users. Around 300,000 Facebook users installed the app, and by granting access to their contacts, the data mining reached an estimated 50 million users. "As far as I can tell, this doesn't change any of the data that Facebook's actually collecting". In October 2017, a lawyer for Facebook testified before Congress that Russian-backed content may have reached up to 126 million Americans on the website.

Twitter users hope this is the start of a larger movement, urging brands to protest against Facebook's handle on users' data.

Cook thinks Facebook's Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal is so big that it warrants "well-crafted regulation". Furthermore, outdated settings were also cleaned up to provide clarity on what information can and can't be shared with apps.

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Facebook's new privacy settings