Date
21 May 2018
Starting this week, Facebook will seek Europeans’ permission for a variety of ways it uses their data, but users cannot opt out of targeted marketing. Photo: AFP
Starting this week, Facebook will seek Europeans’ permission for a variety of ways it uses their data, but users cannot opt out of targeted marketing. Photo: AFP

Facebook: Users must accept targeted ads even under new EU law

Facebook Inc. said it will continue requiring people to accept targeted ads as a condition for using its service, a stance that may help keep its business model largely intact despite a new European Union privacy law, Reuters reports.

The EU law, which takes effect next month, promises the biggest shakeup in online privacy since the birth of the internet. Companies face fines if they collect or use personal information without permission.

Facebook deputy chief privacy officer Rob Sherman said the social network will begin seeking Europeans’ permission this week for a variety of ways Facebook uses their data, but he stressed that opting out of targeted marketing altogether will not be possible.

“Facebook is an advertising-supported service,” Sherman told reporters at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

Facebook users will be able to limit the kinds of data that advertisers use to target their pitches, he said, but “all ads on Facebook are targeted to some extent, and that’s true for offline advertising, as well”.

Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, will use “permission screens” – pages filled with text that require pressing a button to advance – to notify and obtain approval.

The screens will show up on the Facebook website and smartphone app in Europe this week and globally in the coming months, Sherman said.

The screens will not give Facebook users the option to hit “decline”. Instead, they will guide users to either “accept and continue” or “manage data setting”.

“People can choose to not be on Facebook if they want,” Sherman said.

Regulators, investors and privacy advocates are closely watching how Facebook plans to comply with the EU law, not only because Facebook has been embroiled in a privacy scandal but also because other companies may follow its lead in trying to limit the impact of opt-outs.

Last month, Facebook disclosed that the personal information of millions of users, mostly in the United States, had wrongly ended up in the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, leading to US congressional hearings and worldwide scrutiny of Facebook’s commitment to privacy.

Facebook chief financial officer David Wehner warned in February the company could see a drop-off in usage due to the EU law, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

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CG

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