SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook announced this week that it is overhauling its privacy and security settings in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal that has wiped billions of dollars from its stock market valuation.

In a company blogpost, entitled It’s Time to Make Our Privacy Tools Easier to Find, senior Facebook executives Erin Egan, VP and chief privacy officer, and Ashlie Beringer, VP and deputy general counsel, acknowledged that users require information that is easier to access.

“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,” they wrote.

“We’ve heard loud and clear that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find and that we must do more to keep people informed.”

Although they said work on making it easier for users to control their data had been in progress “for some time”, they said “the events of the past several days underscore their importance”.

They were referring to worldwide media reports that data firm Cambridge Analytica had accessed the personal information of millions of Americans from Facebook without their consent to aid President Trump’s election campaign – an allegation it denies.

In its latest update, the Facebook executives said that privacy controls would be simplified and made more prominent by being centralised into a single place rather than having settings distributed across 20 different screens within the platform.

In addition, a new privacy shortcuts menu is supposed to make information about privacy, security and ads easier to find, enabling users to control the ads they see, review what information they have shared, as well as managing who else sees their posts and profile information.

There are also plans for a new page called Access Your Information, which allows users to manage their past activity, such as posts, comments and searches.

“You can go here to delete anything from your timeline or profile that you no longer want on Facebook,” the company blog said.

And according to Axios, Facebook is also going to shut down its Partner Categories tool, which allowed marketers to access third-party data to target ads at users.

“We want to let advertisers know that we will be shutting down Partner Categories,” said Facebook in a statement.

“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.”

Sourced from Facebook, Axios; additional content by WARC staff