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Facebook privacy push

Navigating Facebook’s new world of privacy

If you jump into your Facebook feed and see an item inviting you to “Start Privacy Checkup” – you’re not alone.

In fact, far from it. More than 2 billion users around the world are likely to see the same message at some stage soon as Facebook’s long-promised pivot towards increased privacy gathers increasing momentum.

You might remember back in April 2019, when Facebook used its annual F8 conference to announce a series of developments, including a “fresh” look, new augmented and virtual reality initiatives and a renewed focus on privacy, particularly in relation to its messaging capabilities.

The “Start Privacy Checkup” represents the latest, but perhaps not the most high-profile, step towards this.

The new feature you’re more likely to have heard of in recent weeks is the Off-Facebook Activity tool, which displays third-party data providers and groups that have shared your info with Facebook.

In theory the tool gives users more control over how their data and activities are being used for ad targeting, something that is likely to be of interest to anyone who has ever wondered “Is Facebook listening in on me?” – which, as it turns out is the subject of the first episode of our new The 268 Podcast!

There are a couple of ways people might look at Facebook’s very public new focus on privacy.

The first is that it’s taken such a string of financial hits – including a US$5 billion fine following the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting episode and more recently a US$550 million settlement related to a claim of biometric data sharing – that left it with no choice but to publicly address the issue.

A second is that Facebook is finally getting serious about something it should have been more serious about years ago.

I take a slightly different view in relation to Facebook and the way it deals with our data.

As I discuss in the podcast above, if Facebook knowing more about me means it will serve me with content and advertising that fits better with what I’m interested in, then I’m all for it.

It’s becoming more and more obvious that platforms like Facebook use data as currency. The pendulum might now be swinging back to users having a better sense of control and privacy but there is also an increasing awareness that there are other sides to these “free” channels.

In my case, there’s a difference between being open to having my data used in a way that benefits me and being reckless with my information.

As someone who deals with social media platforms in a work-related capacity each day, I’m perhaps better equipped to make a call on this than others.

For others, who perhaps aren’t so regularly and deeply involved in social media, I’d suggest taking up Facebook’s invite to “Start Privacy Checkup” and also checking what data is being shared via the Off-Facebook activity tool (actually, I’d recommend all users do both these things, even if it’s only to satisfy their own curiosity!).

Knowing exactly what of your information is going where is the first step towards managing your information flow.

You might want to make changes or you might simply decide to leave things exactly as they currently are.

Either way, if knowledge is power for Facebook, it can’t hurt to acquire a little of your own.

Glenn Langridge is an expert in digital campaigning and data analysis, including the use of analytics to inform and guide digital strategies. Contact Glenn.

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