Facebook funds campaign to block data privacy

It's easy to hate Facebook, but it's much tougher to quit

In addition, Facebook is facing widespread criticism for collecting years of contact names, telephone numbers, and call and text histories from Android users.

The tool was especially helpful to advertisers, such as automakers, who do not sell directly to consumers and have relatively little information about who their customers are, according to Facebook.

Facebook claims most of the updates have been "in the works for some time", adding: "Events of the past several days underscore their importance".

That form spelled out that Facebook was gathering users' information and selling it to third parties, including Cambridge Analytica, which used that information to push content to users to sway the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook has put all the settings on one page, accessible via the new privacy shortcuts, making it easier to control the personal information that appears on the site.

The Menlo Park, California-based social networking company has been under extreme pressure recently following reports that data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica allegedly used information on more than 50 million users without their consent in order to aid the Trump campaign for targeted political ads in the 2016 US presidential race. Previously the various settings were contained on 20 different screens.

The updates include easier access to Facebook's user settings and tools to easily search for, download and delete personal data stored by Facebook. A product marketing director at Facebook said this would take over six months and would help improve Facebook's privacy.

The changes won't affect Facebook's privacy policies or the types of data it gathers about its users. A Facebook representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

On Tuesday, tech shares led a broad slump on Wall Street, with an index of key tech stocks losing almost six percent. The situation has become so serious that Facebook co-founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to testify before Congress in the coming weeks.

A new Facebook page - called Access Your Information - has been created where users can see what they have shared and manage it.

It was uncertain whether the changes will satisfy lawmakers. They apply to any company that collects data on European Union residents, no matter where it is based.

Facebook's data breach scandal also sparked a furore in India with IT Minster Ravi Shankar Prasad warning the firm of "stringent" action for any attempt to influence polls through data theft and threatening to summon Zuckerberg, if needed. "But any attempt, covert or overt, by social media, including Facebook, of trying to influence India's electoral process through undesirable means will neither be appreciated nor be tolerated", Prasad had said.

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