Facebook Enacts Great User Controls

Ahead of a comprehensive European data law set to take effect next month, Facebook is offering users more control over their profiles and personal information.

To comply with the new law -- known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) -- the company will specifically ask consumers if their data can be used to power targeted advertising and facial recognition technology.

The changes apply to all users, according to Erin Egan and Ashlie Beringer, Chief Privacy Officer and Deputy General Counsel at Facebook.

“Everyone -- no matter where they live -- will be asked to review important information about how Facebook uses data and make choices about their privacy on Facebook,” they affirm in a new blog post.

The tech titan also plans to ask users to agree to its terms of service and data policy, which were recently updated in response to the Cambridge Analytica controversy.

“We’re not asking for new rights to collect, use or share your data on Facebook,” explain Egan and Beringer.

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While the substance of the data policy is the same globally, EU users can expect to see items that specifically address forthcoming GDPR.

Under the GDPR, for example, people between 13 and 15 in some EU countries will need permission from a parent or guardian to allow some features on Facebook. This includes seeing ads based on data from partners, and includes religious and political views or “interested in” on young users’ profile.

Soon, these teens will see a less personalized version of Facebook with restricted sharing and less relevant ads until they get permission from a parent or guardian to use all aspects of Facebook.

“We want to be clear that there is nothing different about the controls and protections we offer around the world,” Egan and Beringer reiterate in their post.

Facebook executives have warned investors the company could experience a decline in EU usership as a result of the GDPR.

Analysts see the GDPR as just one of several regulatory threats facing Facebook. “There are ongoing regulatory headwinds ahead,” Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser recently suggested.

Following CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, this month, Congress is planning to hold hearings devoted exclusively to Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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