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Facebook Prompts Users to Approve Targeted Ads

On heels of new European rules, update will affect users globally

Facebook is updating its privacy controls, asking users whether they are OK with the social network using their profile information to hit them with targeted ads, ahead of new European regulations going into effect next month.

In a blog post late Tuesday, the company said it will ask users to agree to its new terms, including whether Facebook can share their browsing history and app usage with its ad partners. All of Facebook’s 2.15 billion users will be prompted to review their settings in the weeks ahead, but the changes will be seen first by European users. Facebook will give European and Canadian users an opportunity to opt-in to its facial-recognition software, best known for being used to tag pictures, after the tech has been banned due to regulations. Users will also be asked to review certain personal information shared on their profiles, like relationship status and their religious affiliation.

The changes go into effect ahead of the European Union rolling out its new new data privacy rules, dubbed the General Data Protection Regulation, next month.

“We not only want to comply with the law, but also go beyond our obligations to build new and improved privacy experiences for everyone on Facebook,” Facebook said in its blog post.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you can just opt-out of being hit with ads on Facebook. The only way to do that is to ditch the social network altogether. And as TechCrunch pointed out, Facebook’s use of blue buttons will prompt users to leave their settings alone when they go through their review. But the update gives users an opportunity to review the info advertisers leverage to hit them with ads.

From a business standpoint for Facebook, it puts the company within the guidelines of the GDPR, which looks to give users a better handle on how their information is used online. CEO Mark Zuckerberg called the updated EU rules a “very positive step” last week in his testimony to Congress, while addressing the Cambridge Analytica data leak, where up to 87 million users had their info compromised. The changes might be enough to keep American lawmakers from coming down on Facebook — although that was already unlikely.