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Facebook, Instagram, expand users access to data collected on them

Social media mobile app icons on a smartphone for social networking on the go. Photo by Twin Design/Shutterstock
Social media mobile app icons on a smartphone for social networking on the go. Photo by Twin Design/Shutterstock

March 31 (UPI) -- Facebook has expanded access to information it tracks on users of Facebook and its application Instagram.

Users have been able to view and download data about their use of these platforms over the years through the the Download Your Information tool on Facebook and Download Your Data tool on Instagram, Facebook said Monday, but now users will be able to access more data through these tools.

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Information added includes "data used to improve your experiences," and "inferences used to improve your experiences," Facebook said. The first set of data is based on additional information added to profiles or liking a post or following a Page, which "personalizes what people see" on their accounts. The second set of data is based on information a user shares such as an article on football, which is used to make inferences that they may like to see "football-related content," on the News Feed, news tab or Watch sections.

"Over the last decade we've been working to extend the functionality of our self-service data access tools to help people access data in meaningful ways," Facebook said.

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Changes also stem from "growing efforts by many policymakers and regulators to enhance people's rights around access to their data," Facebook added. "These laws include the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe, which was implemented in 2018 and the California Consumer Privacy Act, which took effect earlier this year."

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Last April Facebook also increased transparency of political advertising after political ads came under scrutiny after the 2016 presidential election since U.S. law didn't require Facebook to identify who paid for an ad. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said any advertiser running political or issues ads must be verified first along with who paid for the ads. Facebook added in the April announcement it would hold advertisements sold on its platforms to the same rules as print and broadcast ads even though Congress had yet to pass legislation requiring them to do so.

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