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Zuckerberg testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Average users of Facebook's platform have a hard time understanding how Facebook uses its data, according to a new Omnibus study commissioned by Digital Content Next.

Why it matters: Privacy literacy proved to be a major topic of discussion during Senate and House Facebook hearings this week, with lawmakers telling CEO Mark Zuckerberg he needs to put questions about access to data in "pedestrian language."

  • Less than half (47%) of respondents say they expect Facebook to track a person’s browsing across the web in order to make ads more targeted, according to the study.
  • A little more than half (56%) of respondents expect Facebook to collect data about a person’s activities on Facebook.
  • Roughly a third (39%) of respondents expect Facebook to track a person's usage of apps that Facebook does not own in order to make ads more targeted.

Members of Congress zeroed in on this idea, grilling Zuckerberg about how hard it is to find, understand and adjust privacy settings on the platform.

  • "Right now I am not convinced that Facebook's users have the information that they need to make meaningful choices," said Sen. John Thune (R-SD).
  • Events like the Cambridge Analytica scandal have "exposed that consumers may not fully understand or appreciate the extent to which their data is collected, protected, transferred, used and misused," said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
  • "You have to inform people in pedestrian language what you have to do with your data," said Rep. Anne Eshoo (D-CA).

Facebook has recently taken steps to make their privacy settings more understandable.

  • It updated its terms of service two weeks ago — the first significant update since 2015 — to make its commitment to user privacy more explicit.
  • It also announced an overhaul of its data policy to better define what data it collects and how it is used, as well as making the privacy tools easier to find.

Privacy literacy is not just a Facebook problem. According to the latest privacy study by Pew Research Center, some 86% of internet users have taken steps online to remove or mask their digital footprints, but "many say they would like to do more or are unaware of tools they could use."

Go deeper: So how does one become more privacy literate? Mozilla's Internet Health Report provides some good starting points in "pedestrian language."

Go deeper

Updated 18 mins ago - Technology

3D printing's next act: big metal objects

Chief Scientist Andy Bayramian makes modifications to the laser system on Seurat's 3D metal printer. Photo courtesy of Seurat Technologies.

A new metal 3D printing technology could revolutionize the way large industrial products like planes and cars are made, reducing the cost and carbon footprint of mass manufacturing.

Why it matters: 3D printing — also called additive manufacturing — has been used since the 1980s to make small plastic parts and prototypes. Metal printing is newer, and the challenge has been figuring out how to make things like large car parts faster and cheaper than traditional methods.

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

Mayors see cryptocurrency as a way to address income inequality

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

At the U.S. Conference of Mayors' meeting in D.C. this week, there's buzz around the idea of giving cryptocurrency accounts to low-income people.

Why it matters: Cities have been experimenting with newfangled ways to address income inequality — like guaranteed income programs — and the latest wave of trials could involve paying benefits or dividends in bitcoin, stablecoin or other digital currencies.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February
  2. Vaccines: Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker