The process of keeping consumer data protected online has significantly evolved over the past decade. With the implementation of stricter privacy regulation and transparency requirements, even social media giants, including Facebook are not immune. Following the $5 billion fine by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in June 2018, Facebook has been forced to release sweeping privacy protection features and protocols to avoid further legal action.

Here are the top Facebook privacy changes you need to know:

Laptop sitting on desk surrounded by privacy icons.

Facial recognition notification

If you’ve ever been tagged in a photo by a friend, then you likely have your Facebook facial recognition capability enabled. This feature is used to assist social media users in tagging photos and videos with the names of other Facebook users and to help the company narrow down and eliminate fake bot Facebook accounts. Created by a mathematical “template” for each user based on their facial features, as displayed in pictures they upload per the FTC suit, Facebook must request each user’s consent before enabling this feature on their account.1 Likewise, any facial recognition information obtained cannot be sold or used by third parties outside of Facebook.

 

Clearer data protection policies 

In addition to the steep 10-figure fine, Facebook has to notify users at least once every year about their data privacy protocols and be more transparent about how personal data is collected, used, and stored. With over 2.4 billion active users worldwide,2 you can imagine the trove of personal data Facebook has at its disposable. To safeguard this information, it is required that private servers be used and that all passwords and access to such servers be highly-encrypted. For Facebook users, expect to see more stringency in password requirements and how often you may have to update your password protections.

 

Monitor privacy compliance

Facebook will closely monitor how third-party applications use their followers’ data and according to the FTC requirements, they must immediately terminate any app developer that does not closely comply with Facebook’s privacy and data security policies. This is of special concern since many third-party apps can access followers’ personal data, including phone numbers and email addresses, opening them up to become targets for hackers. In fact, in a recent study, it was found that two different third-party Facebook apps inadvertently left over 540 million pieces of personal data unprotected on publicly-accessible servers.3 So, expect the availability of third-party Facebook apps to become smaller as the social media giant makes it harder for developers to get access to their users.

As we look ahead to 2020, no new Facebook privacy changes have been announced. However, with close FTC monitoring required over the next 20 years as a result of Facebook’s privacy concerns, users should expect there to be a host of changes coming over the next few years.

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