Facebook lays out changes to comply with a strict new European privacy law

Key Points
  • Facebook announced the steps it will take to comply with a strict European privacy law known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into force on May 25.
  • The social network will begin asking users to review information on whether they want to see ads from partners, if they want to continue sharing certain profile information, and whether they want to use facial recognition technology.
  • Facebook is scrambling to regain trust of its users after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Facebook seeks permission from users for facial recognition
Facebook seeks permission from users for facial recognition

Facebook will begin asking users if their data can be used to power services like facial recognition in a move to help it comply with a massive new European data law coming into effect in just over a month.

In a blog post late Tuesday, the social network said it will:

  • Ask users whether they want Facebook to use data from partners, such as other websites, to show them ads.
  • Ask users to choose whether to continue sharing information such as your political and religious views and relationship status.
  • Start allowing facial recognition technology if users wish to. This is used to suggest friends you may want to tag in photos and also detect when others might be attempting to use an image you have uploaded as their profile picture. Facebook turned off this feature for Europe in 2012 after pressure from regulators and privacy campaigners.
  • Ask people to agree to Facebook's updated terms of service and data policy.

"We're not asking for new rights to collect, use or share your data on Facebook, and we continue to commit that we do not sell information about you to advertisers or other partners," Facebook said in a blog post Tuesday.

European Union users will start seeing these requests this week and they will eventually be rolled out globally.

"We'll present the information in the ways that make the most sense for other regions," Facebook said.

Facebook's announcement comes ahead of the implementation of the European Union's (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on May 25. It replaces a more than two decade year old data law and requires companies to give users more control over their data. Here's everything you need to know about GDPR.

Zuckerberg: There are good parts of GDPR
Zuckerberg: There are good parts of GDPR

The U.S. technology giant is also scrambling to regain trust of its users after the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the data of 87 million Facebook users were harvested and allegedly used by the political consultancy.

Privacy tools for teens 

Another provision in the GDPR is requiring people between the age of 13 and 15 in some EU countries to need permission from a parent or guardian to use certain online services. Users in this age category will see a "less personalized" version of Facebook until a parent or guardian agrees to let the social network show targeted ads for example.

Advertising categories for teens are more limited too. And the face recognition feature will be off for anyone under 18.

Facebook said it would introduce a new "global online resource center specifically for teens" later this year.