Facebook said it will roll out a centralized system for its users to control their privacy and security settings in response to an outcry over the way it has handled personal data.
The system, which will be introduced to Facebook users globally over the coming weeks, will allow people to change their privacy and security settings from one place rather than having to go to roughly 20 separate sections across the social media platform.
From the new page, users can control the personal information the social network keeps on them, such as their political preferences or interests, and download and review a file of data Facebook has collected about them. Facebook also will clarify what types of apps people are currently using and what permissions those apps have to gather their information.
Facebook began developing the centralized system last year but sped it up after revelations that a British political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, improperly harvested the information of 50 million users of the social network.
“The last week showed how much more work we need to do to enforce our policies, and to help people understand how Facebook works and the choices they have over their data,” Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, and Ashlie Beringer, a Facebook deputy general counsel, said in a statement announcing the new system. “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.”
Late today, Facebook also said that it was halting its practice of allowing advertisers to target ads using information from third-party data brokers. These are business-to-business companies that can collect a vast range of details about individual consumers such as their shopping habits, health concerns, income range and preferred credit card.
Some privacy advocates wondered whether the new system would make a difference.
“The platform made similar promises many times before,” said Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina who studies how technology affects society. She pointed out that in 2010, Zuckerberg said in The Washington Post that Facebook users needed simpler controls over their privacy and had promised then that Facebook would “add privacy controls that are much simpler to use.”