Following the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook is taking strides to make big changes within their data and privacy policies. Rightfully so, Facebook users want to know how, why, and where their data is stored and shared when they use the app, and Facebook is responding to this by making some clarifying updates. Announced Tuesday May 1, at f8, Facebook's annual F8 developer conference, Facebook is building a feature called Clear History. With it, will come the ability for users to monitor exactly what websites and apps send Facebook information when you use them. It will also allow users to then decide if they wan to delete that information from their account, and turn off Facebook's ability to store what's associated with their account, from then on. The goal of this feature, according to Facebook, is to restore trust between users and the platform.
"Everyone should have more information and control over the data Facebook receives from other websites and apps that use our services," Erin Egan, VP and Chief Privacy Officer of Facebook said in a statement. A statement that I think we can all agree is appreciated and perhaps long overdue.
Surveys show that one in 10 users have become ex-Facebook users, in the #DeleteFacebook movement that was recently sparked by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, according to TechOpinions. And of the people that have not yet deleted their accounts, they're using it with caution. Many users are admitting to being weary of interacting with their feeds. Some users are deleting the app off their phones to minimize use. Some users are worried about liking posts, and worried about visiting brand pages and overall confused about whether or not their data and privacy is in danger. That's why Facebook is trying to make things a bit more transparent, not only for the people who are still around, but also for the people who have left the app behind. Facebook is working with privacy advocates, academics, policymakers and regulators to figure out how to best approach a change that will be impactful and will instill trust again with in the user community and ex-community.
How Will It Work?
So what exactly will that transparency look like? According to their statements today, Facebook is working on removing the platform's need to have and to storage of identifying information for its users. With the new feature, when you clear your history, Facebook will remove identifying information so the history of the websites and apps you’ve used will no longer be associated with your account. They'll still send some information about what you click on to advertisers (like your gender and your age range) but they'll never give advertisers more personal information than that.
To brainstorm ways to achieve this, they've been traveling around the world, meeting with groups of users and experts to combine community feedback with profession opinions. In essence, our reaction and response to the data breech has not fallen on deaf ears. The policy makers at Facebook are listening to our concerns and are working hard on making fundamental changes that will strengthen our relationship in the future.
If you're still weary of these kinds of promises from public corporations, consider this: at the rate of which users may be deleting their accounts, the need for Facebook to update its policies is paramount. They don't really have a choice to do anything other than listen to their community and make big compromises. So while it remains to be seen how and when the Clear History feature will be effective, as it's still a few months out from being available, I think it's safe to say we can expect big changes from Facebook.