Facebook reveals new European privacy controls, for the world

Facebook is presenting new privacy controls to each of its users as part of the agreement with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will take effect on the 25th of May. Facebook will ask every user irrespective of their location to review their privacy choices beginning from information they add to their profile to how Facebook uses their data to target ads. Facebook is also announcing that facial recognition will be coming back to Europe and Canada after courts ruled 7 years ago that Facebook’s photo-tagging system collected biometric data without proper user consent. In a blog post the company stated that the new controls will first go to European users before it expands globally.

Facebook said it will ask users to review and decide if they want the company to use data from partners to show ads. Deputy Chief Privacy Officer, Rob Sherman at a press briefing said, “Facebook is an advertising-supported service. All ads on Facebook are targeted to some extent and that’s true for offline advertising as well.”

Users in the EU and Canada will be given the choice to opt-in to Facebook’s facial recognition products. In addition, Facebook is positioning face recognition as a security mechanism to identify when someone tries to use another user’s image as their profile picture. The benefit to Facebook here is access to biometric data.

The facial recognition products have been litigious although according to Facebook, their use is optional. Earlier in the week, a federal judge in the US ruled that Facebook must face a class action lawsuit over its Tag Suggestion feature, a facial recognition tool which according to the suit violated Illinois law by storing biometric data without consent when it was originally introduced.

Facebook is creating protection for teens in line with the conditions of the GDPR. In a blog post, Facebook said, “Even where the law doesn’t require this, we’ll ask every teen if they want to see ads based on data from partners and whether they want to include personal information in their profiles.” Youths within the age of 13 – 15 in some EU countries will require permission from a parent or guardian under GDPR to enable targeted ads or add information like “interested in” to their profiles. This will ensure that kids within the age bracket will see a “less personalized” version of Facebook with limited sharing options until they get consent. The Settings and Privacy shortcuts introduced by Facebook last month will start complying with the GDPR will start showing up this week.

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