To mark Data Privacy Day this week, Facebook has launched a new website which provides easy access to its data usage policies, and notes on how business users can protect, and respect, their audience's information.
As explained by Facebook:
"[This week] we’re launching a new Privacy and Data Use Business Hub, which centralizes resources that businesses can use to understand how they can protect people’s information when using Facebook. This new hub contains information on topics like our Ads and Privacy Principles, how data is used in our ad products, and guidance to help companies understand rules like GDPR."
The site includes links to all of Facebook's various data policies, and insight into how its specific tools utilize audience information, along with what brands need to understand in such usage.
Along with the new Privacy Hub, Facebook will also prompt users to check their personal privacy settings over the next two weeks with a reminder in your News Feed.
Data privacy has become a much bigger concern over the last twelve months, with the Cambridge Analytica issue awakening many users to the potential implications of what they share on Facebook, and other social networks, and how it can be used to manipulate your thinking. That, in turn, has sparked a larger debate on the power that such networks hold, and whether tougher regulatory measures need to be implemented to protect people's safety. If such measures were implemented, that would lead to many more headaches for digital platforms (see GDPR), and many more expenses, so the platforms themselves are very keen to highlight the various ways in which they're taking action, and offering assistance to help users manage their digital footprint.
Of course, the key challenge here lies in making users understand the implications of the information they share - as noted by Facebook, active usage rates haven't changed in any significant way since the CA revelations. While there are looming concerns, social networks have become such a significant part of our interactive process that many, apparently, are not overly alarmed - or at least, not enough to stop checking in and seeing what their friends and family are posting on the platform.
There is another question over whether individual engagement rates have declined (they have, reportedly), which may suggest that people are posting less of their own, personal updates in response to the various controversies. But still, if you're active on Facebook in any way, your data is being tracked, and that can be used against you - as we've seen in various cases in recent times.
Given this, it is important for Facebook users - individuals and businesses alike - to understand the various policies and tools at work. But Facebook can't make you go check.
And considering users don't seem as concerned as maybe they should be, perhaps there is a case for more stringent regulation after all. It'll be interesting to see the discussion on this front evolve in 2019.