Facebook says it will update privacy controls

Facebook makes privacy changes

Facebook (FB) announced an overhaul of its privacy controls to make them easier to use -- though the changes won't affect Facebook's privacy policies or the types of data it gathers about its users. 

Facebook has drawn criticism for obtaining users' data through terms and conditions buried in fine print, and from which it is extremely hard to opt out. 

The changes will be made in the "coming weeks," according to a post on Facebook's blog. 

Among those changes is a redesign of its privacy settings for mobile phones so that they'll appear on a single screen, instead of spread across 20 different ones. The service is also vowing to make it easier to find privacy, security and advertising information with a new Privacy Shortcuts menu. 

Facebook has a long history of promising updates to its privacy settings -- only to repeat the effort when the next controversy emerges. 

In 2008, Facebook said it would introduce "privacy updates that give users more control." That language was almost repeated two years later, when it said an update would introduce "more powerful controls." In the latest statement, Facebook vowed to "put people more in control of their privacy."

The privacy update "is the least they can do," Wired senior writer Jessi Hempel told CBSN. "They do this every few years. This is textbook. It never works out."

Such updates may raise more questions than ease consumer doubts, said Josh Feldmeth, senior partner at marketing consultancy Prophet.

"Facebook is saying, 'I've made things easier for you, but I've also revealed to you how hard it was" to control your privacy, Feldmeth said. "Facebook had a trust problem before this. This turns a problem into a crisis."

The announcement comes amid growing criticism of Facebook's data-privacy policies following the revelations about Cambridge Analytica, which harvested data on as many as 50 million Facebook users for political messaging purposes.

It's unclear whether the changes will convince consumers who have deleted their Facebook accounts to return to the service, or whether it will assuage lawmakers and privacy advocates who have expressed concerns about Facebook's collection and use of personal data. 

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"We've heard loud and clear that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find," said the post by Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan and deputy general counsel Ashlie Beringer. "In the coming weeks, we'll be proposing updates to Facebook's terms of service that include our commitments to people."

-- The Associated Press contributed reporting.