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What are all these social media security updates about?

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Levels of trust in Facebook have drastically collapsed after the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal. In this panorama of mistrust towards social media, several companies are reviewing their privacy terms and conditions.

The news also comes after the EU announced the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws, taking effect May 25. The new privacy regulations will give Europeans new data protection rights, thus threatening substantial fines for organisations that do not comply.

Companies like Twitter and Yahoo have simply told users that continuing to use their services will be taken as agreement to the new conditions. Others, with Facebook at the helm, are asking members for explicit consent on new features such as facial recognition.

Privacy advocates warned these updated terms and conditions will not substantially change the relationship between consumers and tech giants. This because many of them would be making their profits by collecting data on users, creating fake profiles and selling advertising based on the resulting data.

However, the GDPR will require tech companies to use plain language to explain how their personal data will be used. The regulations will also safeguard users by requiring from them explicit consent for companies to use their data. As a consequence of this, every time companies will create new ways of using data, they will have to ask for permission again.

Users will also be granted new rights under GDPR, becoming able to download their data and move it to other platforms whenever they please. New and tougher restrictions on data collection on users under the age of 16 will also be introduced.

Outside the European Union, companies will remain free from having to accept these new regulations. Some of them, such as Twitter said that their privacy policy will be implemented differently outside of Europe, meaning users in the U.S. will see different explanations and requests for consent.

And  Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp announced last week that it was raising the minimum user age to 16 in Europe but leaving it at 13 for users in the United States and the rest of the world.

Many other companies, however, are choosing to adopt a single global standard to avoid political and public-relations criticism for giving protections to one set of consumers and not others. It would also allow companies to avoid the technical challenges of maintaining two sets of privacy regimes.

As far as Facebook is concerned, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, during congressional testimony earlier this month, said his company would apply the European standards to U.S. users as well.

To give guidance on the new regulations to those who live in the UK, Consumers' Association (Which?) – has recently published its own guidelines to show how you can take full advantage of GDPR's new rights.

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