Facebook Begins Privacy PR Ahead of Tougher European Laws

Rafia Shaikh
facebook privacy principles

Tech companies are scrambling to get their act together as the privacy laws go live in the European Union in May this year. Facebook, the company that is increasingly being known as the "big brother constantly watching on you," has released its new privacy principles, announcing tools that will give users a better control over their data. For a perspective, the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) implements new privacy laws, costing companies up to 4% of their annual revenue in fines if they fail to comply.

The company released its "privacy principles" that sound more or less like a rewritten version of the GDPR privacy principles. "We give you control of your privacy," the company claims. "We help people understand how their data is used," another claim comes. While it's yet to be seen how much the social networking platform actually understands and complies with the privacy regulations, the current focus will help attract users to rethink their privacy settings on the platform.

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"We design privacy into our products from the outset" - Facebook

Facebook said its privacy principles will work as a one stop shop for users looking into privacy settings. To its credit, the social networking giant is also rolling out a campaign to teach users how to protect their data. This campaign will include short tutorials dropped into the News Feed to give users "information on important privacy topics like how to control what information Facebook uses to show you ads, how to review and delete old posts, and even what it means to delete your account." It is unclear if these are the same guides that were released by the company on the Data Privacy Day, exactly a year ago.

Specifically in the EU, Facebook users will also get reminders to take the existing privacy checkup to make sure they are "comfortable with what they are sharing with who." Considering how Facebook attracts most of the user mistrust when it comes to data collection and privacy, it will be interesting to see if GDPR manages to make the company at least somewhat responsible.

"You own and can delete your information," the company promises.

The new privacy principles follow Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's speech last week where she said the new privacy center would give Facebook a "very good foundation to meet all the requirements of the GDPR and to spur us on to continue investing in products and in educational tools to protect privacy."

GDPR will put restrictions on tech companies on what kind of data they can collect, and if they make it easier for users to see what data companies hold on them and where it's shared. Rob Sherman, the company’s deputy chief privacy officer added that "as technology becomes more sophisticated, and as people’s thinking about privacy becomes more sophisticated, they want to understand how their information is going to be used and they want to have control over it."

- Details about Facebook's privacy philosophy aka "Facebook’s Privacy Principles" are available here.

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