Facebook now lets you scrub your data — for real this time – CNET

Facebook 'lost control of its data'

After calls on social media to #DeleteFacebook, Facebook will now let you take more control yourself.

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If you didn’t care about Facebook privacy two weeks ago, you probably do now.

The social network has come under a hailstorm of criticism after news broke that 50 million Facebook profiles were passed along to UK data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica and used for political profiling. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has had to apologize publicly, and there’s no shortage of lawmakers who’d like to talk to him.

Now, 11 days after The New York Times and The Guardian broke the story, Facebook is trying to prove it cares about privacy too.

Facebook on Wednesday announced it will introduce new features to allow users to take tighter control of their privacy. The changes include making privacy settings “easier to find and use,” and bringing together all of Facebook’s privacy features — including controls users have over personal information and what others see — into one place.

But the big feature? You can now delete anything from your Facebook profile or timeline.

In an emailed statement, Facebook’s chief privacy officer Erin Egan and deputy general counsel Ashlie Beringer spelled out the steps the company is taking, saying they would “put people in more control over their privacy.”

“We’ve heard loud and clear that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find, and that we must do more to keep people informed,” they wrote.

Here’s the basic rundown: 

  • Privacy settings in one place: Simplifies settings from being “spread across nearly 20 different screens”
  • Privacy Shortcuts menu: Brings together two-factor authentication, ad controls, tools to manage who sees your posts and controls for reviewing what you’ve shared
  • Acess Your Information tool: Lets you access, manage and delete information from your profile or timeline (including posts, reactions, comments and searches)
  • Secure download of all Facebook data: Including photos, contacts and posts (and ability to move it to another service)

It’s a big change. While many of us treat our Facebook posts as social ephemera that slip away into the ether, Facebook has long stored this personal data to serve brands and its own ad-targeting tools.

To be sure, users have long been able to download a copy of all the information that Facebook keeps. But for those who went to the effort, this data file was only ever a copy of what Facebook kept — to go dark on Facebook, you had to totally delete your account.

Now you can take the controls and choose which specific parts of your account you no longer want Facebook to keep and which specific posts, reactions, comments and profile details to delete. Previously, Facebook could only forget it for you wholesale.

According to Egan and Beringer, “Most of these updates have been in the works for some time, but the events of the past several days underscore their importance.”

Nothing like a global scandal, a massive drop in your share price and a call for your CEO to front up to Congress to get the ball rolling.

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