The new Privacy Center, which will initially be made available to some Facebook desktop users in the US, includes five specific elements, outlining the data that Meta collects in each, and how you can switch its data tracking off, if you choose.
Those five elements are:
- Security – You can brush up on account security, set up tools like two-factor authentication or learn more about how Meta fights data scraping.
- Sharing – You can visit this guide if you have questions about who sees what you post, or how you can clean up old posts on your profile using tools like Manage Activity.
- Collection – Learn about the different types of data that Meta collects, and how you can view that data through tools like Access Your Information.
- Use – Learn more about how and why we use data, and explore the controls we offer to manage how your information is used.
- Ads – Learn more about how your information is used to determine the ads you see, and make use of ad controls like Ad Preferences.
Much of this has been accessible via other means in the past, including ‘Privacy Shortcuts’ in your Facebook settings, while Facebook also added a ‘Privacy Check-Up’ tool in 2020 to make these controls more overt, and ensure more people were, at the least, prompted to update their personal controls.
So in essence, this new Privacy Center doesn’t add much, functionally. So why the update?
This week, the data protection watchdog in France, CNIL, announced that it had issued a €60M ($68M) fine to Facebook for breaching French law in relation to cookie tracking, following investigations into how it presents data tracking choices to users.
Google and YouTube were also penalized – as explained by CNIL:
“CNIL has noted, following investigations, that the websites facebook.com, google.fr and youtube.com offer a button allowing the user to immediately accept cookies. However, they do not provide an equivalent solution (button or other) enabling the Internet user to easily refuse the deposit of these cookies. Several clicks are required to refuse all cookies, against a single one to accept them.”
CNIL found that this affects the freedom of consent, which is an infringement of Article 82 of the French Data Protection Act, leading to the penalties.
It’s not explicitly communicated in Meta’s announcement, but it seems that the new Privacy Center controls aim to better align with such requirements, providing more, clearer transparency over all aspects of Facebook’s data tracking processes, along with improved controls to empower users to switch off any element of such, if they choose.
Of course, the effectiveness of such then comes down to whether people actually use it, and how many people actually tap through to find out more about such tracking. But that’s not Meta’s responsibility – Meta only needs to ensure that such controls are accessible in order to adhere to advancing requirements around data collection and use.
The Privacy Center will facilitate this, and will also become a key hub for all such controls, as Meta works to meet advancing privacy requirements in different regions.
As noted, the new Privacy Center is being made available to some people using Facebook on desktop, with Meta planning a broader roll out ‘in the coming months’.
People who have access will be able to find the new ‘Privacy Center’ link in the ‘Settings and Privacy’ element.