Facebook to update terms of use on how consumer data is processed

Facebook has agreed to update its terms of use to clearly demonstrate how it uses and finances its users' data for profiling and targeted advertising, the European Commission has announced.

Facebook's willingness to change its terms of use to accommodate the rules of consumer protection authorities and the interests of millions of users in the EU may ensure that the company will not face major fines or censure for violating user privacy in the coming days.

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"Today, Facebook is finally pushing for more transparency and a clear language in its Terms of Use. If Facebook wants to restore consumer confidence after the scandal surrounding Cambridge Analytica, it should not disguise it behind coded legal jargon, as it earns billions with people's data," said Vera Jourová , Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality at the European Commission.

"From now on, it is clear to users that their data will be used by the social network to sell customized advertisements. By pooling their forces, consumer protection authorities and the European Commission are committed to consumer rights in the EU," she added.

Facebook will take responsibility for the misuse of data by third parties

With GDPR already in operation and data protection watchdogs across Europe keenly watching how major social media companies are storing, processing and handling consumer data, Facebook's decision to make its privacy policies more simple to understand will ensure the platform's continuity in the region.

According to the European Commission, Facebook's terms of service now clearly state that the company's business model is based on the sale of targeted advertising services to merchants based on data from user profiles. The company has also mentioned the fact that for services for which users are not being charged, they will agree to share their data and receive commercial advertising.

Facebook has also decided to accept responsibility in the event of misuse of data by third parties, will ensure that content deleted by consumers will not be stored on internal servers for more than 90 days, and that terms of use will only be modified in cases where the changes are appropriate and taking into account the interests of the consumer.

Last year, facing the possibility of class action lawsuits over its use of facial recognition without obtaining consent from users, Facebook had decided to obtain explicit consent from users in Europe and Canada on the use of facial recognition.

"Everyone - no matter where they live - will be asked to review important information about how Facebook uses data and make choices about their privacy on Facebook. We’ll begin by rolling these choices out in Europe this week," it said.

"We not only want to comply with the law [GDPR], but also go beyond our obligations to build new and improved privacy experiences for everyone on Facebook. We’ve also sought input from people outside Facebook with different perspectives on privacy, including people who use our services, regulators and government officials, privacy experts, and designers," it added.