Tech

Facebook's data and privacy hub has become a 'choose your own adventure' maze

It’s easy to get lost in the colorful update.

Puzzled confused dark skinned woman in formal wear looks indignant at smartphone, gazes at display, reads business news on website, isolated blue background. People and modern technology concept
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We’re at a point in society where the words “Facebook” and “data” in the same sentence send shivers up anyone’s spine. After a tumultuous year of battling various kinds of misinformation, Facebook has refocused on user data and privacy. The platform announced an update to its Access Your Information hub, and you really have to want that information to find it.

Evolving and regressing — At the peak of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook updated its settings menu in an attempt to placate an outraged public. There were new privacy shortcuts, and downloading/accessing your data became easier.

Pre-2018 settings (left) and the 2018 settings update (right).Facebook

This latest update to the hub itself creates eight categories to navigate from, instead of two. Each category breaks down even further, and all of the pages include brightly colored illustrations.

Your new data hub, in Technicolor.Facebook

Facebook continues to make these settings and pieces of information more legible to the everyman, but the process of actually getting to them becomes slightly more labyrinthine with each update. The platform acknowledges that there’s too much to parse. It added a search function to help users get to the information they really want, like location and advertiser data — or facial recognition preferences.

Getting to the hub is complicated enough, requiring users to navigate through Settings & Privacy > Privacy Shortcuts OR Settings > Your Facebook Information > Access Your Information (this is just one pathway to the hub). It’s far simpler to search for whatever you’re worried about than to go through multiple categories and subcategories.

Design aside, the landing pages are absolutely the most transparent to date. The hub now includes information about data points that help personalize your Facebook experience, piggybacking off the Why Am I Seeing This? tool in your feed.

The new Access Your Information hub is currently available on iOS and Android, and will roll out to desktop and elsewhere soon.