Facebook Is Making Its Privacy Controls Easier to Use

Facebook is not adding anything new but rather relocating its existing privacy tools to make them easier to find.
Facebook is not adding anything new but rather relocating its existing privacy tools to make them easier to find.
Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook on Wednesday announced a host of cosmetic changes to the platform to make its privacy settings more accessible and easier to configure in response to revelations that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica collected private information from more than 50 million accounts and used it to aid Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. CEO Mark Zuckerberg hinted at these changes in his Facebook post last Wednesday, in which he noted that the company would ensure that users understand which apps have access to their data.

The blog post laying out the privacy redesign reads, in part, “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. 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.”

Facebook in the next few weeks will revamp its settings menu on mobile devices, ditching outdated settings and consolidating everything onto one screen, rather than 20 different ones. The platform will also be rolling out a new Privacy Shortcuts menu, which will be prominently featured on the app. It’ll have more straightforward instructions on how to enable two-factor authentication, review and scrub previous activity, control what information the platform uses to deliver ads, and manage who has access to certain details on a user’s profile. And, finally, Facebook is creating a page called “Access Your Information” from which users can view their posts, comments, and searches, and other info the company has on them, and remove it if desired.

Beyond the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the ways in which Facebook keeps tabs on its users have drawn increased scrutiny, including its collection of metadata from phone calls and text messages of people using its app on Android devices. Plus, users seem to be growing more aware that they’re providing even seemingly innocuous apps with rather intimate details of their lives. The modifications will hopefully make users even more cognizant of exactly what data we’re sharing with whom.

Read more from Slate on Cambridge Analytica.