Facebook Promises To Roll Back Relationships With Third-Party Data Brokers

Illustration by Alex Castro  The Verge

Illustration by Alex Castro The Verge

The platform has come under fire this month following the scandal, which has seen the political data firm Cambridge Analytica be accused of harvesting millions of Facebook users' profiles to help target and influence groups of the electorate on social media - particularly during Donald Trump's 2016 Presidential campaign.

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. While waiting for these changes to take.

The move arrives as Facebook makes efforts to improve user privacy.

Advertisers would still be able to use third-party data services to measure how well their ads performed by examining purchasing data, Facebook said.

The new Privacy Shortcuts menu will let you add two-factor authentication to make your account more secure, review the posts you've shared in the past and permanently delete them and even control your ad preferences.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to testify before Congress about the company's privacy practices in coming weeks, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The information includes categories like home ownership and purchase history and is collected by some of the world's largest data brokers such as Acxiom, Epsilon and Experian. Facebook had assured users that third-party applications only had access to data required for them to function, while, in fact, the applications had access to nearly all of a user's personal information. However, Facebook said the move was taken in order to comply with the incoming GDPR guidelines, due to come into force in May.

"Facebook similarly lacks business incentives to engage in responsible data collection because disgruntled advertisers don't have anywhere comparable to go".

On the desktop version, Facebook has already made some small but crucial changes to its settings menu including the removal of the Apps others use section which outlined the personal information that your friends could be sharing about you through the apps they used.

The program allowed specific targeting of audiences using offline data about them in the U.S., Brazil, France, Germany, the U.K., Australia and Japan.

It has also redesigned its settings menu on mobile devices to make things easier to find, as well as introducing a privacy shortcuts menu. No more hunting through almost 20 different screens: now, the settings will be accessible from a single place.

Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook's product manager for civic engagement also explained that Facebook is now proactively looking for foreign-based Pages producing civic-related content inauthentically.

Facebook shares are down almost 18 percent since 16 March, when it first acknowledged that user data had been improperly channelled to Cambridge Analytica, eating away almost $100 billion of the company's market value.

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