I'm waiting, Facebook. So far I don't have access to the new tools you claim will make it easier for us all to control our privacy settings.

As a result, I can't do as I've been doing this week: using screenshots to show how to see what apps Facebook is giving your data to, or downloading all the information they have on you--or at least the parts they're willing to share.

But at least, we can take you through what Facebook says it's going to be doing differently. Let me know in the comments whether you've got access to the tools described below----and whether you're more likely to stick with Facebook as a result.

The background, which you probably already know

You probably already know what's going on, but just in case: Facebook's under some of the most intense pressure in its history.

It all started after the dramatic revelations involving a quiz app, Cambridge Analytica, and the 2016 Trump election. 

That's resulted, so far, in a drastic drop in Facebook's stock price and a robust #deletefacbook movement. Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg posted replies, Zuck did some interviews, Facebook took out a bunch of full-page newspaper ads--and now they're rolling out these new user-facing tools.

And now for something completely different...

Actually, the changes aren't so much changes, as far as I can tell (again, without being able to check them out myself, yet),as they are a reorganization of where things are located. 

According to the press release, there are basically three changes:

  1. The settings menus should be redesigned. "Instead of having settings spread across nearly 20 different screens, they're now accessible from a single place. We've also cleaned up outdated settings so it's clear what information can and can't be shared with apps."
  2. They're adding a privacy shortcuts menu. Among the controls you should have: add things like two-factor authentication to login, review and delete personal info, manage information Facebook uses to show ads, and manage who sees your posts and profile info.
  3. You'll be able to access your information. I'll let FB speak for itself: "You can go here to delete anything from your timeline or profile that you no longer want on Facebook."

Additionally, they'll be updating the overall terms of service, but they promise the changes will be "to better spell out what data we collect and how we use it ... not about gaining new rights to collect, use, or share data."

The Way-ay-ay-ting Is the Hardest Part

Longer ago than I'd like to admit, I worked for an army general who had a key rule: You couldn't use gerunds when reporting to him. In other words, no f-ing "-ing" words. He didn't want to hear what you were "doing." He wanted to hear what you had already done, and what you were going to do.

I wish they had that rule at Facebook. A lot of people do. Because so far we're just hearing about what they're working on, thinking, promising, developing, or rolling out. Instead, I want to what they've done, and what they promise they will do--along with the dates by which they'll promise it will happen.

That's why statements like, we're "cracking down on abuse ... strengthening our policies, and making it easier for people," as we see in their press release, don't do enough for us.

I don't hate Facebook. I'm not going to #deletefacebook. But I'm still waiting (see what I did there) to see if the new changes they're supposedly rolling out will be enough to satisfy anyone.

Published on: Mar 29, 2018