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Facebook details upcoming privacy changes with notifications to users on mobile & desktop

Facebook pushed a rare service notification to users on Tuesday, reminding millions of the social network's members of updates to its terms, data and cookies policies, advertising systems, and new privacy controls.

Facebook's new Privacy Basics feature walks users through the steps required to tweak their privacy settings to their own liking. Interactive guides are available for customizing settings in three areas— "what others see about you," "how others interact with you," and "what you see"— that show the process needed to make changes.

The company also reminded users to review changes to its terms of service and policies surrounding the collection of data, tracking cookies, and advertising. Facebook says many of the changes are designed to increase transparency about operations, including:

  • Details about how location information is collected and used when on mobile devices.

  • Information about the new Buy button that allows users to make purchases without leaving Facebook.

  • Explanations of the way Facebook analyzes device data, like battery and signal strength, to improve its apps.

  • Additional details describing how Facebook shares data between its services, like WhatsApp and Instagram

Finally, Facebook will now respect users' advertising preferences regardless of the device they are on. Previously, opting out of advertisements on a laptop would not opt out of the same ads on an iOS device, for instance.

The changes, which will take effect on Jan. 1, come as Facebook —and numerous other Silicon Valley firms —are under fire from privacy advocates. Recent data leaks and the ongoing revelations of coercion by the National Security Agency have eroded public confidence and brought information security and privacy to the forefront.