Facebook wants to give you more control over your data, but will it really do so?

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We are all aware of the happenings that have been going on around Facebook over the last couple of weeks. The company has been accused of collecting and leaking users data and this came to the limelight after the Cambridge Analytica scandal that saw Facebook suspend the political data analytics company from its platform.

Facebook said that personal information of as many as 87 million people, most of them from the US may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica. Remember the firm has also been accused of meddling in Kenyans last two elections working for President Uhuru Kenyatta.

These leaks confirmed the many fears most of us have on what Facebook actually does with the data it collects from users.

Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zucker appeared before the US Congress to shed light on this leaks. He acknowledged that Facebook should not have trusted Cambridge Analytica’s assurance that it will stop using user’s personal information it collected. He went further to promise that Facebook was conducting a full investigation into every app that has access to user’s information from the platform. If it finds they’re doing anything Improper, Mark said they will ban them from Facebook.

In Kenya, NASA leader Raila Odinga, who lost to President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed to sue Cambridge Analytica and Facebook for running ‘devilish’ propaganda against him during the last general elections.

Over the last couple of weeks, Facebook has been trying to fix its image and has been doing this by offering a number of explanations on how it collects and uses data.

The company yesterday published a blogpost, where its product manager David Baser said that Facebook collects data about web users who aren’t even logged into Facebook.

‘’When you visit a site or app that uses our services, we receive information even if you’re logged out or don’t have a Facebook account. This is because other apps and sites don’t know who is using Facebook,’’ he said

Is this new or should it really surprise us? Not really.  Any website that uses Facebook log in or sign up option, runs Facebook ads, has a Like button alongside its posts or uses Facebook analytics sends information about your browsing activity back to the social network. This, Facebook says its what it uses to make targeted ads or make its content better.

‘’A website typically sends two things back to your browser: first, content from that site; and second, instructions for the browser to send your request to the other companies providing content or services on the site. So when a website uses one of our services, your browser sends the same kinds of information to Facebook as the website receives. We also get information about which website or app you’re using, which is necessary to know when to provide our tools.’’ David said.

Facebook says other companies like Google, Amazon, Twitter and Pinterest also do the same. Collecting data about users from other sites.

The company has also refuted claims that it sells user’s data despite the fact that it collects every single information about you as you surf the web. It adds that it believes in everyone deserves good privacy controls and requires websites and apps who use Facebook tools to tell you they’re collecting and sharing your information with Facebook and to get your permission to do so.

‘’’Whether it’s information from apps and websites or information you share with other people on Facebook, we want to put you in control — and be transparent about what information Facebook has and how it is used. We’ll keep working to make that easier.’’

Register for the Finnovation Africa Summit here: Happening at the Radisson Blu in Nairobi, Kenya on the 31st of May 2018.

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Nixon Kanali
Kanali is a freelance tech journalist based in Nairobi. For product reviews, pitches, guest posts, or interviews drop me an e-mail nickcanali@gmail.com/nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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