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Facebook's new settings let users view and download their data by category.

Facebook on Tuesday debuted changes it is making to privacy controls as European data protection rules go into effect next month. With the changes, Facebook users will have more options to view and download data stored on Facebook, as well as an easy way to tell Facebook not to use third-party data as part of its ad targeting.

The bottom line: While Facebook is offering the same tools to users globally, they will show up first in Europe this week, arriving for other users "in the coming weeks and months."

In the past, users could download all their information as one big file. With the new changes, consumers can view personal data by category — posts, comments, messages, photos, and so on — and choose which type of information they wish to download.

Other changes:

  • Users in Europe will for the first time be able to turn on face recognition, if they want.
  • Customers will also get to choose whether to Facebook can use data acquired from others as part of their ad targeting.
  • Facebook will remind people if they have made a political or religious affiliation as part of their profile and offer them the option to delete that information, considered more sensitive under the new privacy laws.

There's still no option to opt out of ad targeting entirely, but a separate ad preferences option lets people remove specific interests for which they don't want to be targeted.

But, but but: In many cases, Facebook is offering more information to users before they agree to the new privacy settings. However, it is still easier to opt in than to opt out. Users can say "yes" by clicking "accept and continue" on the first screen — but if they want to say "no," they have to click through to at least one more "manage my settings" page.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 min ago - World

Belarus dictator Lukashenko says he'll leave post after new constitution

Photo: Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty

Longtime Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has said he will step down after a new constitution comes into force, according to Belarusian state media.

Why it matters: Lukashenko has faced three months of protests following a rigged election in August. He has promised to reform the constitution to reduce the near-absolute powers of the president, but has insisted that his strong hand is needed to see that process through.

2 hours ago - World

Iran confirms assassination of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadhe

The Iranian ministry of defense issued a statement on Friday confirming the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadhe, an Iranian scientist and the architect behind the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program.

Why it matters: Fakhrizadhe was the head of the Amad project in the Iranian ministry of defense, which focused on developing a nuclear bomb until 2003.

U.K. to launch new watchdog next year to police digital giants

Photo: Muhammed Selim Korkutata/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The U.K. government said on Friday that it will establish next year a Digital Markets Unit, which will enforce forthcoming "pro-competition" regulations aimed at curbing some of the digital platforms like Google and Facebook.

Why it matters: This is the latest move by a government to respond to growing objections to the size and power these companies have amassed.