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Facebook is finally being forced to take privacy, security, and transparency seriously

Published Apr 9th, 2019 5:33PM EDT
Facebook User Privacy
Image: Richard Drew/AP/Shutterstock

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Facebook has had a couple of rough years when it comes to transparency, user privacy, and security. From the Cambridge Analytica scandal from last spring all the way to the most recent security issue, Facebook had to convince the general public and regulators around the world that it’s going to change its ways in the coming years.

And it looks like the giant social network is finally going to care about its users. It’s not really a choice, however, as Facebook appears to have been forced into agreeing to new business policies in the European Union.

The European Commission on Tuesday announced: “Facebook changes its terms and clarify its use of data for consumers following discussions with the European Commission and consumer authorities.”

In other words, the EU forced Facebook to listen to its concerns regarding consumer protection practices and change some of its terms of service. Facebook will now tell European users how it uses their data for profiling activities and targeted advertising, as well as give them information on how they can close their accounts, and explain why some accounts can be disabled.

Facebook will amend its Terms of Service to explain that it doesn’t charge users for Facebook access and use in return for “users’ agreement to share their data and to be exposed to commercial advertisements.”

Here are other things that Facebook amended in its ToS in Europe, set to be completed by end of June:

  • its policy on limitation of liability and now acknowledges its responsibility in case of negligence, for instance in case data has been mishandled by third parties
  • its power to unilaterally change terms and conditions by limiting it to cases where the changes are reasonable also taking into account the interest of the consumer;
  • the rules concerning the temporary retention of content which has been deleted by consumers.  Such content can only be retained in specific cases – for instance to comply with an enforcement request by an authority – and for a maximum of 90 days in case of technical reasons;
  • the language clarifying the right to appeal of users when their content has been removed.

It’s unclear at this point whether Facebook’s updated ToS will also be used in other markets, but we’ll probably get our answer soon enough.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.