Facebook's new privacy controls currently being rolled out to users

Heather Parry

By Heather Parry

19 April 2018

Facebook is rolling out new privacy controls, ahead of the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) at the end of May—and the first European users will start seeing the new controls this week.

Every single Facebook user will eventually be asked to look at and consider their privacy choices, including what information is on their profile and what data they allow to be used for targeted advertising.

Facebook’s facial recognition is also making something of a comeback. Seven years ago the technology was ruled to be in violation of privacy laws in both Canada and the EU, as the company hadn’t collected proper consent for the collection of biometric data from facial profiles.

However, users in Canada and the EU will now be allowed to opt in to facial recognition, which will allow them to be alerted when other users are posting photos of them. This does, though, still allow Facebook to store your biometric data.

In a blog post, the company outlined exactly what types of data you’ll be asked to consider on your profile:

If you’ve chosen to share political, religious, and relationship information on your profile, we’ll ask you to choose whether to continue sharing and letting us use this information. As always, including this information on your profile is completely optional. We’re making it easier for people to delete it if they no longer want to share it.

In addition, users will be asked to agree to Facebook’s updated terms of service and its updated data policy, both of which will have new additions in the EU related to the GDPR.

There will also be additional new protections for teens specifically in response to the GDPR, as the blog post stated:

GDPR recognizes the importance of providing special protections and experiences for teens. We’ve built many special protections into Facebook for all teens, regardless of location. For example, advertising categories for teens are more limited, and their default audience options for posts do not include “public.” We also keep face recognition off for anyone under age 18 and limit who can see or search specific information teens have shared, like hometown or birthday. Later this year we’ll introduce a new global online resource center specifically for teens, and more education about their most common privacy questions.

Under GDPR, people between the ages of 13 and 15 in some EU countries need permission from a parent or guardian to allow some features on Facebook — seeing ads based on data from partners and including religious and political views or “interested in” on your profile. 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. Even where the law doesn’t require this, we’ll ask every teen if they want to see ads based on data from partners and whether they want to include personal information in their profiles.

Of course, we would recommend taking time to really read and understand the company’s terms of service and data policy, and to flag up any points that overstep what you feel comfortable with. If there are parts of the new privacy layout that you feel uncomfortable with, take to social media to voice your concerns.

If anything, the last few months have shown that social pressure can force companies to take your privacy more seriously—and if you keep up the pressure, they’ll continue to improve.

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