Facebook has provided an update on its efforts to improve its data privacy policies, and ensure that user information is protected in every aspect.
User privacy became a bigger focus for Facebook back in 2017, when it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had utilized people's personal data, sourced from Facebook, to build complex political targeting tools designed to capitalize on their individual leanings, and influence their vote.
Facebook has since strengthened its data access permissions in various ways, while also adding more tools for users to better control their personal data and access.
To provide more insight into those improvements, Facebook has today launched a new 'Privacy Progress Update' platform to showcase its various efforts on this front.
As explained by Facebook:
"Our new Privacy Progress Update dives deeper into how we’ve designed our privacy program to scale and evolve over time. To enable the key components of this work, we have a cross-functional group of teams from engineering, legal, policy, compliance and product disciplines that are dedicated to designing and implementing our privacy program. On top of that, every person working at our company - from our CEO and executives, to engineers on each of our apps and sales and business functions across the globe - has a role to play in supporting privacy."
The overview covers all aspects of Facebook's improving privacy efforts, including data portability and enhanced overviews on processes.
"It’s important that our privacy program translates into how we engineer and build our products and services. To achieve this, we’ve designed processes and technical mechanisms that embed privacy into all aspects of our company operations. Examples of this include Privacy Review, which has guided us to design with privacy in mind when creating experiences like new ephemeral messaging options and ensuring age-appropriate experiences for youth. It also includes efforts like incident management, third party oversight and our work on external data misuse like data scraping."
The effort is part of Facebook's broader push to improve transparency over how it works to protect user data, while also providing more ways for users to maintain control over their personal information - which, as noted, also relates to its evolving data portability efforts.
At the same time, Facebook continues to push for increased regulation over these elements, to ensure all tech platforms are operating on a level playing field, and are of a equal understanding of their requirements.
"We also continue to support updating the rules of the internet, including a comprehensive federal privacy law in the US that harmonizes with existing frameworks globally and further solidifies the rights of consumers and the responsibilities of companies. Our work to engage constructively with policymakers and experts on regulation is ongoing, as we’ve demonstrated with data portability and privacy legislation."
How, exactly, that will work is still unclear, as there's no universal agreement on how platforms should handle these elements. But we are seeing more progress, with new laws that recognize the importance of protecting user data and data access in certain regions, which could lead to the establishment of clearer rules around such in future.
That would ensure that there's more onus on digital platforms to protect people's information, and keep it out of the hands of those who may seek to use such for malicious purposes. It's a difficult area, particularly when you also consider data scraping and the complexities of protecting publicly available user information at scale.
But as more and more of our daily activities are conducted online, more and more of our data is also being shared via such process.
For the most part, that's not a big problem - there's not a huge amount that can be done with insights like 'Tom Smith likes Coca Cola', for example. But that, of course, is in isolation, and with 2.7 billion users, Facebook's data insights are on a much broader scale, and can be much more damaging, as various political influence campaigns have shown.
That's where the real problems begin, and as more organizations recognize the power of such, the need to protect it becomes even more pressing.
You can check out Facebook's Privacy Progress Update here.