Facebook releases redesign of settings and privacy pages

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress

In a blog post, Facebook said the changes have been in the works for some time but "the events of the past several days underscore their importance".

Facebook on Wednesday launched a fresh effort to quell the firestorm over the hijacking of personal data, once again unveiling new privacy tools and settings to give users more control over how their information is shared.

Facebook announced a major review of apps last week and unveiled these additional measures as the FTC confirmed it will investigate whether Facebook violated a 2011 settlement over its privacy practices. Therefore, instead of having settings spread across almost 20 different screens, users can now access it all from a single place.

Whether these changes will be enough to mollify the concerns of privacy experts, lawmakers and the FTC, is anyone's guess.

In a blog post last week on the election-linked data breach, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said that in 2014 his company had moved to significantly limit the data that third-party apps could access (it says the data harvesting at the heart of the scandal pre-dated this) and was taking further steps to secure users' data.

The US Federal Trade Commission has opened an investigation into Facebook and attorneys representing 37 states are also pressing Zuckerberg to explain what happened.

Facebook is also planning to make it easier to download a copy of all the data you've shared with the company.

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The upcoming mobile app will also have an updated Privacy Shortcuts menu that will contain a more organized layout that allows you to enhance security and control all your information in an easier way. "Everyone gets privacy settings which has always been one of the big differentiators for Facebook and makes it a very different service for people is you can say, "I want this photo album to go to these people, 'or 'I want this note to go to these people" and the privacy control on Facebook are really unparalleled by anyone else". In addition, Facebook is also facing widespread criticism for collecting years of contact names, telephone numbers and call and text histories from Android users.

Facebook responded to these issues by vowing to better control the information developers gather via its platform.

Facebook, with more than two billion users a month, provides advertisers with the ability to customise their messages and target who sees them by selecting from preset lists of demographics, likes, behaviours and interests, while excluding others.

The updates include easier access to Facebook's user settings and tools to easily search for, download and delete personal data stored by Facebook.

The European Union is already in the process of implementing new data collection rules which started before the Cambridge Analytica revelations.

From the new centralized page, people will be able to opt out of sharing certain traits - for example, they can indicate that they no longer want to be identified as someone who loves cats.

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