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Facebook says it will honor ‘most restrictive’ location settings in new iOS and Android updates

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Facebook says it will honor the ‘most restrictive’ location settings as iOS and Android roll out updates – but urges users to keep sharing their data

  • Facebook said it will default to the most ‘restrictive’ settings in Android and iOS
  • New privacy features are set to give users greater control over location services
  • Those settings may conflict with settings selected in the Facebook app 
  • Facebook said it will use the more privacy-focused location settings of the two
  • The company also encouraged users to keep location sharing activated 

In response to new privacy features in iOS and Android, Facebook says it will honor users’ ‘most restrictive’ location settings but encourages users to keep sharing their data.

In a blog post, Facebook explained that the new wave of location-sharing options on both Android 10 and iOS 13 — the two primary mobile operating systems — will affect some of its features and, more importantly from the company’s perspective, a major facet of its business models. 

Specifically, the post addresses new options in operating systems that allow users to turn location-sharing on and off more explicitly and with greater granularity. 

Included in those new features are options in Android to use location services only when the app is in use instead of constantly running in the background — previously users were only offered a simple on or off switch.

Facebook wants users to know that it will honor the most restrictive location settings in new Android and iOS updates, but wants users to keep sharing your location data.

Facebook wants users to know that it will honor the most restrictive location settings in new Android and iOS updates, but wants users to keep sharing your location data.

Another new feature being rolled out in iOS 13 allows users to allow location services for the requesting app only once and then turning them off after a single use. 

Where things get tricky, however, is when you factor in Facebook’s own in-app settings which allowed users to set their own location-sharing settings, including a feature to only share when the app is in use.

To help rectify what may end up being conflicting privacy settings between Facebook’s own app and settings selected on one’s device, Facebook said it will now always choose the ‘most restrictive option.’ 

‘To address this issue, Facebook will continue to respect your most restrictive settings choice,’ wrote the company.

‘For example, if your device location setting is set to “all of the time,” but your Facebook background location setting is off, we won’t collect your precise location information when you’re not using the Facebook app.’ 

Despite honoring the more privacy-sensitive of two options, Facebook also urged users to keep their location-sharing services on, saying that the site works best when Facebook has access to one’s data. 

Facebook has taken flack for a string of privacy scandals throughout the last several years and has turned to a more privacy-focused vision as a result. File photo

Facebook has taken flack for a string of privacy scandals throughout the last several years and has turned to a more privacy-focused vision as a result. File photo

‘Facebook is better with location. It powers features like check-ins and makes planning events easier. It helps improve ads and keep you and the Facebook community safe,’ said the company in the post.

‘Features like Find Wi-Fi and Nearby Friends use precise location even when you’re not using the app to make sure that alerts and tools are accurate and personalized for you.’

It’s worth noting that Facebook also has a vested stake in encouraging users to keep their location services on, given how lucrative the data may be to potential advertisers.

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Facebook has long considered targeted advertising a crucial element to its business model and has leveraged a wealth of user data, including location services, to entice companies looking for consumer insight. 

That focus on gathering information, however, has also given rise to myriad privacy scandals throughout the last several years and has fueled a more serious movement toward reining in data collection practices. 

HOW DOES FACEBOOK PLAN TO IMPROVE PRIVACY?

In a March 6 blog post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised to rebuild based on six ‘privacy-focused’ principles:

  • Private interactions
  • Encryption 
  • Reducing permanence
  • Safety 
  • Interoperability
  • Secure data storage

Zuckerberg promised end-to-end encryption for all of its messaging services, which will be combined in a way that allows users to communicate across WhatsApp, Instagram Direct, and Facebook Messenger. 

This he refers to as ‘interoperability.’ 

He also said moving forward, the firm won’t hold onto messages or stories for ‘longer than necessary’ or ‘longer than people want them.’

This could mean, for example, that users set messages to auto-delete after a month or even a few minutes. 

‘Interoperability’ will ensure messages remain encrypted even when jumping from one messaging service, such as WhatsApp, to another, like Instagram, Zuckerberg says. 

Facebook also hopes to improve users’ trust in how it stores their data.

Zuckerberg promised the site ‘won’t store sensitive data in countries with weak records on human rights like privacy and freedom of expression in order to protect data from being improperly accessed.’

 

 

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