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Facebook just took its first steps toward GDPR compliance


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This week, Facebook will begin asking users for permission to use their personal data, the first official move by the social network ahead of the GDPR compliance deadline set for May 25, Facebook said in a Tuesday night blog post.


Starting first in the EU, Facebook will prompt users on the site and the app with "permission screens" that will ask users to approve whether they want Facebook to be able to use certain personal data for features like facial recognition or to target ads based on political, religious, and relationship details.


facebook ad revenue


That permissions prompt will roll out in coming months to users in the US and the rest of the world.


Users won't be able to prevent ad targeting altogether. The prompt will only give users the option to "accept and continue" (meaning they must accept Facebook's policies before proceeding), or "manage data setting" (through which users will be able to manually limit the kinds of data that advertisers can use to target them).


For now, Facebook will continue to operate under an advertising model powered by targeted ads, so there will be no all-encompassing option for users to opt out, said Facebook Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman per Reuters. To drive that point, Sherman said that if a user is uncomfortable with their data being used to target them with ads, they "can choose not to be on Facebook." Accepting targeted ads will be a condition of using the service, so even if a user opts out of sharing certain pieces of data, they will still be shown ads, and any ad on Facebook will be somewhat targeted based on whatever data users allow.


For the time being, the move is unlikely to impact Facebook's overall business.Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified last week that there will always be a version of Facebook that's free, but speculation is growing about Facebook offering a paid service to users who would prefer to opt out of sharing their data.


Facebook's ad revenue per user varies, but is highest in the US & Canada, where each user delivers the social network $82.44 a year, so the average US or Canadian user would need to pay an average $7 a month to use the platform, per TechCrunch analysis. Such an option doesn't seem likely to take off just yet, as 77% of Americans said they wouldn't pay for an ad-free Facebook, per recent research by Toluna per Recode. Meanwhile, of the remainder who said they'd be willing to pay for ad-free Facebook, 41.6% said they'd only pay between $1 and $5, while 25% said they'd pay between $6 and $10.


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