The backlash against Facebook over the misuse of user data by Cambridge Analytica has forced the social media network to give more control to users over their data. On Thursday it announced a two-pronged plan to make user data more secure on the social network.
The first is the updated Privacy Shortcut menu, which is now rolling out on the Facebook app. This puts all existing privacy settings options, such as who can see your posts or profile info and who can send you friend requests, for instance, in one place.
“We’ve redesigned our entire settings menu on mobile devices from top to bottom to make things easier to find. Instead of having settings spread across nearly 20 different screens, they’re now accessible from a single place. We’ve also cleaned up outdated settings, so it’s clear what information can and can’t be shared with apps," says Erin Egan, vice president and chief privacy officer-policy at Facebook, in a statement.
So far, all the privacy options were scattered under various categories within the Facebook settings menu. The updated menu will also provide detailed explanations on how each tool works.
“While the option to control one’s privacy is a step in the right direction, to some extent it passes the accountability on to users. This should have been a basic right given to consumers from the start instead of a reactive move as we are seeing today. As for the data which has already been shared, digital footprints tend to stand the test of time, technology and policy and it’s hard to assure that data which is already out there would not be misused," says Abhay Edlabadkar, founder and CEO, Redmorph, a web security and privacy company.
The second part of the strategy includes the upcoming roll out of the Access Your Information feature. Facebook doesn’t say exactly when this will be made available to users. This upcoming tool will help users manage their information on the social network, and even delete the data they don’t want anyone to see. What you will be able to monitor and delete include posts, reactions, comments, and things you’ve searched for. Incidentally, the upcoming Access Your Information feature also seems to be a slicker and easier to understand rehash of the existing Activity Log page, which you can access in your Facebook menu. It shows every single activity ever logged on the Facebook account, including every post you have made, every comment you have posted, every ‘like’ on someone’s status update, for instance.
The Activity Log is currently divided into various sub-categories such as photos, posts, posts you are tagged in, likes and reactions, comments. You can go here to delete anything from your timeline or profile that you no longer want on Facebook.
In case a user wants to keep a copy of this data, they can download it from the Activity log, with the download a copy option. To ensure the data is not downloaded by anyone but the user of the account, Facebook will first send a confirmation email with the download link to the linked email account. All text-based logs will be downloaded, as well as videos and photos. However, users cannot delete a photo in which they have been tagged by someone else. The Access Your Information feature is likely to have a few more features but it is not clear what these will be. Also, the company has not made it clear whether the data will be deleted only from the user’s account or will be scrubbed completely from Facebook.