Facebook rolls out its first changes since Mark Zuckerberg promised to 'do better'

Key Points
  • Facebook unveiled new tools Wednesday to make it easier for users to see and access the data the social network holds on them.
  • The company is aiming to regain trust after a backlash from users over the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.
  • New features include a redesigned settings menu on mobile devices, a privacy shortcuts menu, and a tool called "Access Your Information."
Nasir Kachroo | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Facebook unveiled a raft of measures Wednesday aimed at making it easier for users to see and access the data the social network holds on them and make changes where needed.

The move comes after the explosive reports last week that a quiz app harvested 50 million Facebook profiles for data which were then sent over to Cambridge Analytica, a firm that was caught claiming it handled the digital aspects of President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign.

Facebook is scrambling to regain the trust of users amid a backlash against the social network following last week's revelations.

It said it redesigned the settings menu on mobile devices to make things easier to find. All the different sections under the settings tab will now be a in a single place.

The technology giant has also added a privacy shortcuts menu. Users can go to this menu to add extra security when logging in, review and delete what you've shared from search history to friend requests, and manage the information on your profile and who sees your posts.

Facebook is also introducing a tool called "Access Your Information" to let you see the comments you've left or posts you've shared and delete them. The company also said it will make it easier for users to download their data, such as photos and contacts you've added to your account, and even move it to another service.

Finally, Facebook said that it will be proposing new terms of service and will be updating its data policy to "better spell out what data we collect and how we use it." The technology firm said that most of the updates "have been in the works for some time," but the recent events "underscore their importance."

"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," Facebook said in a blog post Wednesday.

"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."

US lawmakers ask Zuckerberg to testify
US lawmakers ask Zuckerberg to testify

Facebook is one of the many companies that are also facing a tougher regulatory environment, particularly in Europe. In May, a piece of legislation known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is set to come into force. Many of the new tools Facebook has outlined will help it adhere to the new rules.

That includes being able to ask for data to be removed and requesting data, as well as the ability to take your data to another platform. Facebook has already talked about making changes to privacy settings and the way it is displayed in relation to the upcoming GDPR rules. The new tools appear to be a part of that wider push.

The fallout from the Cambridge Analytica data scandal has hit Facebook shares which are down over 13 percent year-to-date. Bank of America Merrill Lynch reduced its price target on the stock for the second time in five days on Tuesday. Facebook is facing regulatory scrutiny after the Federal Trade Commission announced a probe into the social network.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has been summoned by U.K. lawmakers to speak to them about the data scandal. Zuckerberg declined the invite but is instead planning to send two executives. He will reportedly testify before Congress however.

Further details about the link between the harvested Facebook data and Cambridge Analytica also continue to emerge. Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower behind the entire fiasco, claimed that Palantir, a secretive U.S. company, also had access to the data harvested by Cambridge Analytica from Facebook. Palantir deny the allegation.

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