Facebook tackles privacy in new campaign

The social giant is tweaking how users monitor their data and launching a PSA campaign to reacquaint people with its privacy tools.

Facebook has announced a campaign to show users how their data is used by the company and how users can better control their privacy, revealing the social platform’s privacy principles for the first time.

Through a blog post by chief privacy officer Erin Egan, Facebook said a series of videos would be disseminated through its platform to highlight the various ways users can customize their privacy settings. The videos will also outline the company’s policies on data sharing. “You may see ads from sites you visited, but advertisers can’t see contact info like your phone or email without your permission,” says text in one ad.

While much of Sunday’s blog post focuses on existing tools, it did announce the creation of a privacy hub later this year where users’ privacy functions can be controlled in a central, more easily accessed place. “Privacy controls are only powerful if you know how to find and use them… We’re designing this based on feedback from people, policymakers and privacy experts around the world,” Egan said.

The stated principles, which Facebook says it has released for the first time, are presented more as mission statements than formal policies. They include “We give you control of your privacy,” “We design privacy into our products from the outset” and “We are accountable,” with short descriptions for each such heading.

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The campaign announcement was timed for both the start of Data Privacy Day on Jan. 28 and to prepare for the implementation of new data protection rules in Europe.

Facebook has stated it intends to be fully compliant with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) when authorities begin enforcing it in May 2018. It replaces a raft of older privacy laws and creates stricter guidelines for advertisers who collect user data. Among the changes it brings, GDPR grants Europeans a broader set of rights over their online data, and requires companies to report data breaches within 72 hours, imposing harsh financial penalties for companies that fall short.