Meta is looking to provide more transparency over how it utilizes Facebook user data, and what you can do to control such, via a new ‘Privacy Center’ tool, which will provide a comprehensive overview of its various usage tracking aspects.
The new Privacy Center, which will initially be made available to some Facebook desktop users in the US, includes five specific elements, outlining the data that Meta collects in each, and how you can switch its data tracking off, if you choose.
Those five elements are:
- Security – You can brush up on account security, set up tools like two-factor authentication or learn more about how Meta fights data scraping.
- Sharing – You can visit this guide if you have questions about who sees what you post, or how you can clean up old posts on your profile using tools like Manage Activity.
- Collection – Learn about the different types of data that Meta collects, and how you can view that data through tools like Access Your Information.
- Use – Learn more about how and why we use data, and explore the controls we offer to manage how your information is used.
- Ads – Learn more about how your information is used to determine the ads you see, and make use of ad controls like Ad Preferences.
Much of this has been accessible via other means in the past, including ‘Privacy Shortcuts’ in your Facebook settings, while Facebook also added a ‘Privacy Check-Up’ tool in 2020 to make these controls more overt, and ensure more people were, at the least, prompted to update their personal controls.
So in essence, this new Privacy Center doesn’t add much, functionally. So why the update?
This week, the data protection watchdog in France, CNIL, announced that it had issued a €60M ($68M) fine to Facebook for breaching French law in relation to cookie tracking, following investigations into how it presents data tracking choices to users.
“CNIL has noted, following investigations, that the websites facebook.com, google.fr and youtube.com offer a button allowing the user to immediately accept cookies. However, they do not provide an equivalent solution (button or other) enabling the Internet user to easily refuse the deposit of these cookies. Several clicks are required to refuse all cookies, against a single one to accept them.”
CNIL found that this affects the freedom of consent, which is an infringement of Article 82 of the French Data Protection Act, leading to the penalties.
It’s not explicitly communicated in Meta’s announcement, but it seems that the new Privacy Center controls aim to better align with such requirements, providing more, clearer transparency over all aspects of Facebook’s data tracking processes, along with improved controls to empower users to switch off any element of such, if they choose.
Of course, the effectiveness of such then comes down to whether people actually use it, and how many people actually tap through to find out more about such tracking. But that’s not Meta’s responsibility – Meta only needs to ensure that such controls are accessible in order to adhere to advancing requirements around data collection and use.
The Privacy Center will facilitate this, and will also become a key hub for all such controls, as Meta works to meet advancing privacy requirements in different regions.
As noted, the new Privacy Center is being made available to some people using Facebook on desktop, with Meta planning a broader roll out ‘in the coming months’.
People who have access will be able to find the new ‘Privacy Center’ link in the ‘Settings and Privacy’ element.
Twitter Launches Election Integrity Features Ahead of US Midterms
The US midterms are coming up, and Twitter’s working to get ahead of any potential misuse of its platform to spread misinformation around the candidates, with a range of improved election integrity features, as well as new, curated election info hubs to help boost credible updates.
First off, Twitter’s activating enforcement of its Civic Integrity Policy, giving it more capacity to limit the spread of misleading tweets.
As per Twitter:
“The Civic Integrity Policy covers the most common types of harmful misleading information about elections and civic events, such as: claims about how to participate in a civic process like how to vote, misleading content intended to intimidate or dissuade people from participating in the election, and misleading claims intended to undermine public confidence in an election – including false information about the outcome of the election. Tweets with this content may be labeled with links to credible information or helpful context, and Twitter will not recommend or amplify this content in areas of the product where Twitter makes recommendations.”
Twitter launched a new set of tweet labels last November, which include additional notes on why the tweet has been labeled.
Those add-on tags have proven to be effective in limiting the spread of false information, with Twitter reporting its updated label formats increased ‘Find out more’ click-through rates by 17% (meaning more people were clicking labels to read debunking content), while they also led to notable decreases in engagement with labeled Tweets.
Twitter’s also bringing back its ‘prebunks’ to further limit the spread of misleading reports.
Prebunks aim to provide context on potentially misleading election trends, limiting false reportage about the same.
“Over the coming months, we’ll place prompts directly on people’s timelines in the US and in Search when people type related terms, phrases, or hashtags.”
Twitter’s also launching new election info hubs in Explore, with updates curated by Twitter’s team, along with its labels on candidate profiles to make it clear who they are and what position they’re running for.
Twitter will also be promoting media literacy tips on @TwitterSafety, to help users educate themselves on ways to avoid misinformation.
The combination of initiatives should help to limit the spread of misinfo around the polls, and keep Twitter users informed. Which is important, because while Twitter’s audience is only small, in comparison to other social apps, Twitter is the home of real time news and updates, which means that much of the news that’s initially shared on Twitter then gets aggregated to other platforms as a result.
Many of the most passionate, active news followers stay up to date via tweet, and if Twitter can ensure that these people are not receiving incorrect info to begin with, that can actually have a big impact on the broader news ecosystem.
Which is why all of these elements are more important than, on the surface, they may seem.
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