Facebook begins huge privacy campaign in preparation for tough new EU laws

Sign outside Facebook headquarters

Facebook has begun a huge privacy campaign in preparation for strict new EU data protection laws.

The General Data Protection Legislation (GDPU) comes into force on May 25, and companies breaching it face a fine of 4% of their annual global turnover, or €20 million – whichever is higher.

Facebook users in the EU will soon see a notification in their news feed prompting them to take a 'privacy check-up' and make sure they're comfortable with their current sharing settings.

New educational videos will also appear in feeds, explaining how to delete old posts, control the data Facebook shares with advertisers, and what happens if you delete your account.

Privacy principles

In preparation for the new laws, and to coincide with Data Privacy Day, Facebook has announced seven 'privacy principles', which it says guide how it handles your personal information:

  • We give you control of your privacy
  • We help people understand how their data is used
  • We design privacy into our products from the outset
  • We work hard to keep your information secure
  • You own and can delete your information
  • Improvement is constant
  • We are accountable

It's no surprise that these tie neatly with the key requirements of the GDPU:

  • Users must be notified of data breaches within 72 hours
  • Users should have free access to their personal data
  • Users should be able to erase their personal data (the right to be forgotten)
  • Users should be able to transfer their personal data to another controller
  • Systems should be designed with privacy in mind from the outset

The company is also launching a new Privacy Center, as described by chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg at a company event in Brussels last week.

“Our apps have long been focused on giving people transparency and control and this gives us a very good foundation to meet all the requirements of the GDPR and to spur us on to continue investing in products and in educational tools to protect privacy,” Sandberg said.

Cleaning up Facebook

Sandberg reiterated CEO Mark Zuckerberg's admission that Facebook must do more to combat abuse, as well as interference in elections.

“The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot to do,” Zuckerberg said in a post on his personal account earlier this month. “Whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.”

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)