- Facebook updated its terms of service and data policy for the first time in three years to better explain what data the platform collects and how it uses that data across properties including Instagram and Messenger, per a Newsroom blog post. Facebook emphasized that it's not asking for "new rights" for collecting and using data, and it's not changing users' previous privacy choices.
- The update includes more detail about how Facebook uses data to customize posts and ads and suggest groups, friends and pages. Facebook also clarified the instances where it shares user information and stressed that it never sells user information, doesn't share user information with advertisers and imposes strict rules on how its partners use and disclose data.
- The company is adding more specifics about what data is collected when users sync their contacts from some of its products and explained how it is combating abuse and suspicious activity by analyzing what people share. For the next seven days, users can additionally provide feedback on the new terms and data policy. Once they are finalized, Facebook will publish them and ask users to agree to them on Facebook.
With the revised data policy and terms, Facebook continues its attempts to reassure users about the security of their information in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, whose scope came into clearer focus this week. Facebook on Wednesday admitted that the data firm with ties to the Trump campaign accessed and misused information from 87 million users' profiles, according to Adweek — far higher than the 50 million figure first reported in March. These revelations came on the heels of Facebook earlier this week revealing that it scans text and images sent via Messenger to make sure they follow the company's content guidelines, Ad Age reported.
Allowing users to provide feedback for ideas that will potentially inform new data policies marks a change from the insular way Facebook has historically handled these matters. In a call with reporters on Wednesday afternoon, CEO Mark Zuckerberg took responsibility for the data breach and acknowledged that the situation was "not good," but also said that Facebook hasn't seen a "meaningful impact" in terms of people or businesses using the platform. The executive also said no one has been fired from the company because of the scandal and that he isn't aware of plans by the company's board to replace him as CEO.
Still, as allegations of Facebook's poor handling of user data continue to pile up, the company faces tougher scrutiny from consumers, marketers and the government. Several brands, including SpaceX, Tesla, Mozilla and Sonos, have distanced themselves from Facebook, either deleting their company pages or pulling their ads. Zuckerberg is also expected to testify before Congress on April 10 and 11 to face questions on the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
While users don't appear to be leaving the platform in droves, a survey by securities firm Raymond James revealed that 26% would use Facebook less because of the controversy and 19% said they will use the platform "significantly less." When asked about the Cambridge Analytica data breach, 43% said they were "very concerned" and 31% said they were "somewhat concerned."