Facebook adjusts ad targeting tools in response to Cambridge Analytica

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 29 March 2018

Facebook has adjusted its privacy settings and ad targeting tools to give users more control over their information, following the allegations that Cambridge Analytica used Facebook to harvest data for 50 million people in the to sway the 2016 US election.

From September, Facebook will prevent advertisers from using third-party data on its platform. In the past, advertisers could use a feature called partner categories to supplement the targeting they do on Facebook with data from brokers.

Advertisers will no longer have the option to use data from companies like Acxiom, Epsilon, Oracle, Experian and TransUnion on the platform. This means that only data gathered by Facebook can be used for audience targeting on the platform.

“We want to let advertisers know that we will be shutting down partner categories. This product enables third party data providers to offer their targeting directly on Facebook. While this is common industry practice, we believe this step, winding down over the next six months, will help improve people's privacy on Facebook," Graham Mudd, Facebok product marketing director said in a statement.

The privacy settings page now features shortcuts with images to make it easier to navigate, particularly on mobile. Users can enable two-factor authentication, control what they share or have shared, manage who can see their posts, and learn more about their ad preferences.

Until now changing settings had been complex, spread over at least 20 screens, which had frustrated users.

Facebook says it’s been working on these updates for “some time”, but expedited the release following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

"Last week showed how much more work we need to do to enforce our policies and help people understand how Facebook works and the choices they have over their data," Facebook wrote in the blog post on Wednesday.

The data leak has raised concerns about the failure of big tech companies to protect privacy and what that will mean for regulation in the future.

It has already deterred some brands from using the platform, with Mozilla pausing advertising and Playboy and Tesla deleting their accounts.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologised for the mistakes the company made, both in a statement and in print ads issued this week, and has promised to crack down on abuse of the Facebook platform and restrict developers' access to user information.

Local managing director Will Easton also apologised for the scandal this week, admitting Facebook hasn't met user expectations.

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