Will Facebook’s plan to alter its policies restore users’ trust?

By Elton Gomes

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, social media giant Facebook has been looking to manage its reputation, which is currently in tatters. Even as the company prepares to face investigations in several countries, it is also considering implementing better security measures.

Facebook recently announced significant modifications for pages, advertisements, and other data rules were carried out in an effort to salvage the social media company’s reputation.

What is Facebook planning?

People who run pages on the social media network, and have gained several thousand followers, will have to be verified, Facebook announced on Friday. Since Facebook pages can essentially be operated anonymously, it is not uncommon for many users to follow pages, without even knowing who runs them.

“This will make it much harder for people to administer a Page using a fake account, which is strictly against our policies,” Facebook said in a statement, CNN reported.

In terms of advertisements run on the social media site, Facebook now plans to begin labelling all political and issue-related ads, which refer to ads that discuss certain political subjects, like gun laws or policies, but are not directly linked to a party or a political candidate.

The social media giant also plans on revealing who has paid for the advertisement. In addition, the company’s new rules require any potential client desiring to run a political or issue-related advertisement, to verify their identity and location. It also confirmed its plans to compile a list of these adds, forming a searchable database, which the firm plans to publicly release in June 2018.

Facebook has rightly faced considerable flak for collecting users’ data without their consent. Now however, the company plans to stop its medical data sharing plan. On April 5, 2018, CNBC reported that the site sent a doctor on a secret mission to share social media data of the “most vulnerable patients.”

For a proposed research project, Facebook asked several hospitals in America to share data about their patients, including information about their illnesses and prescriptions. According to CNBC, the social media giant allegedly looked to help the hospitals gain a better picture of which patients might need special care or treatment.

However, the proposal never made it past the planning stages. Currently, it has been put on hold following the Cambrigde Analytica scandal.

The unsend message button

Facebook has faced a lot of heat for introducing varying privacy standards for messages from higher executives. Unnamed sources have confirmed to TechCrunch that some of the old messages they received from founder Mark Zuckerberg disappeared. However, their own replies remain in the inbox.

In other words, if you send Zuckerberg a Facebook message, he owns a copy of it forever. However, if he messages you, he has the capability to remove or delete the message.

To remedy this situation, Facebook plans to develop an “unsend” feature for all normal users, according to TechCrunch. The company said it will wait for the feature to be available for everyone, and that it won’t unsend or retract any more of Zuckerberg’s messages.

Facebook and AggregateIQ

Facebook stated that it had suspended Canadian political consultancy firm AggregateIQ from its platform. The firm was suspended in light of reports that it may have improperly gained access to personal data of Facebook’s users. The National Observer reported that the Canadian firm had been linked with UK-based Cambridge Analytica.

“In light of recent reports that AggregateIQ may be affiliated with SCL (Strategic Communication Laboratories) and may, as a result, have improperly received FB user data, we have added them to the list of entities we have suspended from our platform while we investigate,” Facebook said, the Week reported.

Amidst the series of bad news, there was however some sign of relief. The social media company’s shares saw an increase of up to 4.2%. The increase could possibly be attributed to Zuckerberg’s statement denying that the data scandal had any adverse impact on usage or ad sales.

Despite several celebrities and well-known personalities have deleted their accounts since the Cambridge Analytica scandal came to light, the company saw a rise in the number social app downloads in March. As per by Evercore data cited by Reuters, the downloads rose from 30.1% to 33.2%.

It appears that Facebook will still need to overhaul of its privacy settings. However, by making headlines for all the wrong reasons, perhaps even considerable privacy changes might not change Facebook’s public perception.


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