Facebook cuts ties to data brokers in blow to targeted ads

Facebook's talks with Congress signal Zuckerberg will testify on data scandal

The Cambridge Analytica scandal has plunged Facebook into its worst crisis in years, with regulators and lawmakers in the United States and Britain demanding answers about how the social network deals with data privacy.

FACEBOOK yesterday launched a fresh effort to quell the firestorm over the hijacking of personal data, unveiling new privacy tools and settings to give users more control over how their information is shared.

The world's largest social media company is under pressure to improve its handling of data after disclosing that information about 50 million Facebook users wrongly ended up in the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

Zuckerberg last week apologized for the breach of trust and outlined concrete steps the company would take to better protect users, including ways to make sure people understand who has access to their data and showing them a tool at the top of the News Feed.

However, data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica recently confirmed that Facebook has been profiling its users' information including their likes, uploads, downloads and data information.

Information on privacy, security and ads will be easier to find with the redesigned settings menu, and users can control their privacy settings "in just a few taps" on the Privacy Shortcuts page.

They explained: "We're introducing Access Your Information - a secure way for people to access and manage their information, such as posts, reactions, comments, and things you've searched for".

Still firmly in damage limitation mode, Facebook has announced updates to how its bewildering settings menus are displayed and how the privacy of its two billion users can be tightened.

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Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina, noted that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had promised simpler privacy controls in 2010.

The move could fundamentally alter Facebook's hugely profitable advertising business, which has long let marketers narrowly target consumers using a blend of data from both Facebook and outside sources.

Among the updates are tools to find, download and delete your Facebook data, as well as a simplified settings menu "accessible from a single place", Egan and Beringer said.

It's also made it easier to delete data from Facebook profiles.

A much-talked about feature in recent days, you're now able to pick what Facebook data you want to download.

Some privacy advocates wondered whether the new system would make a difference.

"These updates are about transparency - not about gaining new rights to collect, use, or share data", a spokesperson said in a Facebook blog post.

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