Facebook promises better user privacy controls and more advertiser tools at F8 conference

Social media giant Facebook launched a slew of new features and promised users will have more control over privacy settings at its annual F8 developer conference in Silicon Valley this morning.

The privacy announcement, which comes in the wake of the damaging Cambridge Analytica scandal, will affect advertisers who have been offered a new app to help monitor the effectiveness of campaigns.

The mobile app, available on both iOS and Android platforms, allows advertisers to monitor growth, engagement, and conversion efforts along with making key metrics and reports easier to view.

The conference also provided hints of beefed up marketing tools on Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service, along with a new match-making feature. The dating feature resulted in significant market share drops for Match, which owns Tinder and OkCupid.

Zuckerberg: ‘I didn’t have clear enough answers to some of the questions about data.’

A key change for advertisers will be the Clear History feature, which will allow Facebook users to review the data being kept on them, delete stored information and prevent the service monitoring users’ activities.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the Clear History tools are a direct result of outrage over the misuse of users’ data: “One thing I learned from my experience testifying in Congress is that I didn’t have clear enough answers to some of the questions about data.

“We’re working to make sure these controls are clear, and we will have more to come soon.”

In a post to the company’s public blog, Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer said of the new feature: “If you clear your history or use the new setting, we’ll remove identifying information, so a history of the websites and apps you’ve used won’t be associated with your account.

“We’ll still provide apps and websites with aggregated analytics – for example, we can build reports when we’re sent this information so we can tell developers if their apps are more popular with men or women in a certain age group.

“We can do this without storing the information in a way that’s associated with your account, and as always, we don’t tell advertisers who you are.”

Egan stated the Clear History feature will be rolling out in coming months with the company planning a series of round table events to discuss the design of the controls. Mumbrella has contacted Facebook to determine if any of those meetings will be held in the Asia Pacific region.

In its other announcements to the conference, Facebook had a strong emphasis on augmented reality across various services including Messenger and Instagram.

During media briefings at the conference, the company’s executives flagged WhatsApp will become more “open to advertisers”.

While the details on what advertising tools will be available on the messaging platform are vague, reports are that difference over privacy changes were enough to force WhatsApp founder Jan Koum to resign from Facebook and step down from the company’s board on Tuesday.


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