Facebook opens Privacy Check-up Cafes to salvage its reputation
Giving Londoners a crash course in Online privacy settings
As one revelation follows the next, the big techs have been steamrolled with data privacy issues lately. Mainstream media has lashed out at the companies for manipulating their users’ data without their prior consent or knowledge.
Microsoft was the latest to be blamed for the review of third party contractors of its Skype calls & Cortana recorded videos. Online publication Motherboard has now reported that the software giant’s contractors are also snooping in on the audio of Xbox users, apparently in an effort to improve the console’s voice command features.
Let’s go back to the company which has an absolutely abysmal record of protecting user privacy — Facebook — paid hundreds of contractual workers to listen to your voice recordings from its Messenger App. Not that this is any different from the malpractices of the other big techs, the social media giant has a long history of privacy breaches starting from the infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Now in a bizarre move, to do some damage control with its over 2 billion platform users, FB has announced that it will open pop-up cafes across the UK where users can get their “privacy check-ups” along with free drinks. Five of such cafes will be opened up across the island nation with the first one welcoming visitors inside The Attendant coffee bar on Great Eastern Street in London, on August 28th and 29th.
These privacy checkup cafes will tutor visitors on how to customize their Facebook privacy settings, which have so far been drowned in ambiguity by the confusing language. This way people would know which of their personal information is visible to others & what third apps may have access to their Facebook account.
But why the UK & London specifically? Well, according to a result of a recent poll, only 27% of the city dwellers know how to customize their FB account settings. I am pretty sure there would have been other locations where this percentage would be even lower. Facebook, however, would probably get much more coverage in a megapolis like London in trying to convince its users that it is serious about their privacy.
In a related move to fix its badly tarnished image, FB has also launched a ‘clear history’ tool (picture above)— a feature promised more than a year ago by Mark Zuckerburg. However, the much-hyped tool would not delete anything from the company’s servers, it would just “disconnect” the data from the user's account. Initially being offered in Ireland, Spain & South Korea before a worldwide launch later.
I hope Facebook has learnt its lesson after a severe backlash and a $5 billion privacy violation fine by the US Financial Trade Commission. Fines apparently don’t serve the purpose as we have seen previously, in the case of other big techs as well.