Facebook has been criticized for its user data privacy practices, time and again. The social media network has been alleged to collect important data of its users and share access to it with other tech firms and it has also alleged to share user data for "political reasons" without their consent, though it has always maintained it doesn't, and if it ever did, it did with their consent.
Now, it seems in an attempt to rebuild some of their trust and reassure users about their privacy concerns, Facebook will let them view and download more of the data that it collects about them. In other words, Facebook wants you to know more about what it knows about you.
Facebook expands its user privacy tools
The Menlo Park, California based social network revealed that it is expanding the 'Download Your Information' tool on Facebook and the 'Download Your Data' tool on Instagram to now include more information that it collects about you as you go about using those platforms.
Facebook collects information based on your usage, such as what you add to your profile or what Pages or posts you like over time, so that it can use it to personalize what you see on your Facebook and Instagram account.
Facebook's questionable user data privacy practices
However, this practice has been questioned by a lot of users and security experts, especially after the various user data scandals such as the Cambridge Analytica data harvest, the Russian and US Elections meddling scandals, and for its alleged shared access to user data with other tech firms including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix and others.
Download Your Information tool by Facebook
The Download Your Information tool on Facebook was introduced to let users download much of the content they have posted to Facebook, including photos, videos, text posts, and other forms of media on their Timeline, and some personal information aka Profile that it collected from them while signing up. You can also download your activity log, friends, messages, calls, apps, and the ads on your Facebook account via the tool.
But now it will show some of the more detailed interferences Facebook makes about you. For example, it will now let you know that it is recommending football-relayed content to you because you shared an article about football with a friend. On Instagram, the Download Your Data tool, will now let you see categories assigned to some accounts such sports or fashion, which the service used to suggest related content in the Explore tab.
Why this matters
Now, some of you may argue "what's the big deal, I already know Facebook uses my usage history to show me stuff I want to see?" In fact even Google keeps a tab on your usage history to show you relevant ads based on your searches on Google search and on e-commerce websites such as Amazon and eBay. But won't it be interesting to see why or how these tech companies are keeping tabs on you and why they're recommending certain content? After all, as the saying goes, "the devil is in the details."
Meanwhile, Facebook is becoming more transparent regarding some of its policies and last year it increased transparency about the ads on its platforms, and started sharing more details on why specific users were shown specific ads.
The increased transparency and emphasis on user privacy could be stemming from regulations such as Europe's General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act. Nevertheless, as long as anything keeps another Cambridge Analytica-style data breach from happening, we shouldn't be complaining.