Facebook releases privacy principles

Facebook releases privacy principles
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Facebook released a set of privacy principles Monday aimed at helping users understand how the social media giant handles their data and what they can do to shield their information from other users.

The principles include giving users control of their data and keeping it secure from hackers. Others state the company’s commitment to constantly improving their design and holding themselves accountable with user privacy in mind.

Facebook also announced on Monday that it would post educational videos instructing users on issues such as adjusting their privacy settings and removing old content from their profiles.

The moves come as Facebook is trying to rebuild its image after a year of scrutiny into Russia’s alleged use of the platform to influence U.S. politics, and as lawmakers are starting to question how tech giants are wielding their size and influence.

“We know that tech companies need to do better, and that we at Facebook need to do better,” Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, said in a speech in Brussels last week. “We have a lot to improve. We have not done enough to stop the abuse of our technology. We've worked hard to maximize the benefits of our platforms, but we know we need to do more to minimize the negatives.”

The company has also promised algorithmic changes to combat the spread of misinformation. Earlier this month, it rolled out proposals to prioritize content from users’ friends and family over posts from brands and media outlets and to rank publishers according to how much users trust them.

Facebook’s latest moves don’t include changing the way the company handles user data, and they do little to address questions over how it aggregates and shares information. Still, the social media giant is continuing its goodwill tour by trying to show regulators that it’s taking their concerns seriously.

Last week, Sandberg told the European audience that it will make user privacy controls easier to access by putting them all in one place. The change comes as tech companies are readying themselves for a new European Union privacy regulation that goes into effect in May that will impose stiff penalties for not obtaining consent from consumers before sharing their personal data.