Facebook to strengthen user privacy controls

Announcement comes in wake of criticism of mishandling user data

Posted: Mar. 29, 2018 8:53 PM
Updated: Mar. 29, 2018 8:53 PM

MASON CITY, Iowa - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is announcing that sweeping changes are coming to the popular social media networking site after widespread criticism of the company mishandling customer data.

Earlier this month, Facebook confirmed that data from as many as 50 million users was collected by the British political firm Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. In response, Facebook says it would no longer allow marketers to use information from third-party data brokers like Acxiom to target users with ads, and will be updating its privacy setting to give users more control to manage ads and to secure their accounts even more.

Pat McLaughlin of Dougherty uses Facebook, and checks it every day.

"To see what my grandkids and kids are up to. I don't usually post anything," McLaughlin says.

Facebook's announcement caught her off guard.

"I wasn't aware until they started talking about it on the news, and it would be a concern," McLaughlin adds.

Sara Broers, CEO of the Mason City-based consulting firm Social Connections, LLC, says apps like games and quizzes that are created by third-party developers may look harmless, but can have major repercussions if you click the 'Agree' button, as that click could immediately send personal information over to data brokers.

"You have just given them your email address, maybe your phone number, maybe your address...it's not going to surprise me if Social Security numbers show up in this," Broers says.

However, Broers adds that the public should not immediately cancel their accounts, and instead be aware of what can happen.

"People may ask, 'why should I be on social media?' Social media is a place to be social, it's a place to connect with your friends, it's a place to help businesses grow. If we all use it responsibly, and think before we check the box, 'I agree to give my information to so and so', you're good," Broers says.

To change your privacy settings on Facebook, click on the upper right 'down arrow' on the top of the page, and then click on 'Settings.' Once you're there, there will be a list of options such as general, security and login, privacy, timeline, apps, and others. One of the security updates allows users to download a copy of their data.

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