Facebook Inc. (FB) - Get Report shares edged higher in pre-market trading Wednesday after the embattled social media group unveiled changes to that will make it easier for users to change their privacy settings following a data mis-use scandal that has cost the company $95 billion in market value.
Facebook said that users will be able to go to one screen, rather than 20, to change privacy settings and will also make it easier for them to delete posts, friend requests and searches. The moves follow criticism of the firm's use of private data after media reports said as many as 50 million Facebook users may have been exposed to an app designed by a Cambridge University researcher who funnelled information to a controversial political consultancy for use in influencing elections in the U.S. and the United Kingdom
"Last week showed how much more work we need to do to enforce our policies and help people understand how Facebook works and the choices they have over their data," the blogpost read. "We've heard loud and clear that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find and that we must do more to keep people informed."
"So in addition to Mark Zuckerberg's announcements last week - cracking down on abuse of the Facebook platform, strengthening our policies, and making it easier for people to revoke apps' ability to use your data - we're taking additional steps in the coming weeks to put people more in control of their privacy," it added. "Most of these updates have been in the works for some time, but the events of the past several days underscore their importance."
Action Alerts Plus holding Facebook shares gained 0.84% at the opening bell to change hands at $153.38 each, a move that still takes its recent peak-to-trough decline to around 20% and has loped more than $95 billion from its market cap.
Cambridge Analytica, the U.K. political consultancy at the heart of Facebook Inc.'s (FB) - Get Report data scandal, said yesterday that it can verify the deletion of information it purchased from a University researcher, contradicting public statements from the social media giant's COO Sheryl Sandberg.
London-based Cambridge Analytica also said in a series of Tweets from its verified account that it took legal action to stop whistleblower Christopher Wylie, who testified before U.K. lawmakers as part of a probe into the evolving scandal, from "pitching identical services to our clients" when he left the first in 2014. The statements come amid increasing concern that data obtained by Cambridge Analytica may have been used to sway not only the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections, but also Britain's EU referendum earlier that year.
Cambridge Analytica also said it didn't share any any data with AggregateIQ, a Canadian firm with close financial ties to Britain's Vote Leave campaign that triumphed in the 2016 Brexit referendum. "We haven't had any communication with AIQ since December 2015," Cambridge Analytica said.
Wylie, who worked for the firm until 2014, released a 50-page statement through his legal team yesterday outlining allegations against Vote Leave, which was lead by U.K. MP and cabinet member Michael Gove, that the group directed cash to a second group, called BeLeave, and dictated the way in which it was spent. If proven true, the allegations would mean that Vote Leave violated U.K. limits on electoral spending.
"Can we trust a result where it's highly likely that overspending happened? British democracy is about listening to the voice of the people not about how much money you spend," Wylie said Monday. "Brexit (is) an irreversible decision. So for me I think it's important that if we're going to irreversibly change the constitutional settlement of this country, we should be confident that that's on a genuinely democratic basis."