Recapping Our Privacy Efforts on Data Privacy Day

  • We’re celebrating Data Privacy Day by rolling out encryption updates on Messenger and making new investments in privacy research.
  • We’re also looking back at some of the progress we made over the past year to embed privacy into all facets of our company. From updates on our use of face recognition to disappearing messages on WhatsApp, 2021 was a big year for privacy at Meta.
  • We’ll build on this foundation and continue to advocate for updated privacy regulations around the world.

We’re kicking off 2022 by celebrating Data Privacy Day, a moment that aims to raise awareness about the importance of privacy. Here’s a quick look at some of the progress we made over the last year, and the investments we made to improve our privacy technology and practices. 

  • Released our first Privacy Progress Update: In April, we released a detailed look at the work we’re doing to protect people’s privacy and give them control to make their own choices. Our inaugural Privacy Progress Update showcases the work we’re doing to embed privacy across our company operations, the outcomes that this work is driving and the technical solutions we’re investing in to address privacy at scale. This work is ongoing, and we’ll continue to provide updates like this. 
  • Introduced how we’re thinking about Privacy-Enhancing Technologies: We believe that Privacy-Enhancing Technologies, or PETs, will support the next generation of digital advertising. This is why we’re investing in a multi-year effort with academics, global organizations and developers to build solutions and best practices. In August, we talked about how some of these technologies might work and our investments in the space. 
  • Provided more privacy options on WhatsApp: While end-to-end encrypted messages you send and receive on WhatsApp are stored on your device, many people also want a way to back up their chats in case they lose their phone. In October we began rolling out an extra, optional layer of security to protect message backups with end-to-end encryption. Your end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) backups are only accessible to you; neither WhatsApp nor your backup service provider are able to read your backups, or access the key required to unlock them. And in December we rolled out an option for WhatsApp users to turn on disappearing messages by default for all new chats. When enabled, all new one-on-one chats you or another person start will be set to disappear at your chosen duration (24 hours, seven days or 90 days), and can be turned on for groups you create.
  • Shared how we’ll be using facial recognition technology going forward: In November, we announced that we’d shut down the Face Recognition system on Facebook as part of a company-wide move to limit the use of facial recognition in our products. We still see facial recognition technology as a powerful tool, for example, for people needing to verify their identity, or to prevent fraud and impersonation. We’re continuing to work on these specific use cases while engaging outside experts and weighing specific instances where facial recognition can be helpful against concerns about the use of this technology.
  • Had important conversations about privacy: In December 2020, we kicked off a series of videos featuring Erin Egan, our Chief Privacy Officer for Public Policy. Over the course of 2021, Erin conducted a series of deep-dive conversations with ​​leading privacy experts from around the world to discuss pressing privacy policy topics. Six videos later, she’s had the opportunity to explore issues ranging from the future of privacy legislation to how we might build for user privacy in virtual communities. These conversations are important to have, and we’ll continue to engage with privacy stakeholders.  
  • Updates to encryption on Messenger: Last year, we announced new tests for group chats and voice and video calls in Messenger’s end-to-end encrypted chats. These features are now fully rolled out. We also updated our disappearing message settings for end-to-end encrypted chats, and now we’re introducing a new notification if we detect someone takes a screenshot of your disappearing message, just like in vanish mode.

These are just some of the ways we made progress on privacy this past year. From improving youth safety on Instagram, to new investments in privacy research, to outlining how we’re building the metaverse responsibly, this past year was an important one for privacy at Meta and for the people who use our apps and technologies. 

We’re committed to building on this foundation. From pushing for united privacy regulations across the industry to ensuring the integrity of international data flows, there’s always work to be done. Privacy is an integral part of everything we do here at Meta, and we understand that this commitment means continuously improving and focusing on this every day.

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