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Facebook calls for data portability laws as it expands the types of info users can move to other services.

Facebook calls for data portability laws

April 20, 2021: -Facebook now renews its calls for Congress to make guidelines about online services that should make users’ data available to move to other platforms as its expanding feature to do just that. On Monday, Facebook announced it’s expanding a tool that allows user data portability to other services.

Facebook will enable users to copy their posts and notes to Blogger, Google Docs, and WordPress. The company has a way for users to transfer their photos and videos to other services already.

Lawmakers have advocated for data portability functions to level the playing field for newer entrants into the tech industry. Few lawmakers believe that if users take their data off Facebook’s services easily, it could incentivize them to go. This would open a path for new innovators to grow in the space of social media.

Facebook itself has advocated for data portability laws. It uses Monday’s launch to illustrate how firmer guidelines around the process could enable more meaningful and secure data to flow among the services.

For instance, when users transfer their posts and notes through the new feature, those transfers will not include Facebook friends or posts that friends left on a users’ page.

 That is due to the legal ambiguity around who owns that data, especially in the absence of federal digital privacy law. Facebook already got into trouble for granting a third-party developer access to friends’ user data without their permission during the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

There’s also uncertainty around which services should be answerable if data is compromised during a transfer. Facebook believes this is another place where Congress could clear the confusion.

Congress could also set standards for the types of data that services should make available for transfer. They could also set guardrails to prevent certain types of data from being required to be transferred.

Some data collected by Facebook is done passively, which includes inferences the service makes about users. For example, Facebook public policy manager Bijan Madhani said the company would make inferences based on account activity to determine if bots run them. He said it might benefit users to keep that data out of portability requests to maintain the integrity of that feature.

Facebook plans to continue working on the tool and add destinations for users to transfer their data, said Madhani. He said that consumers could look to the data types already available for download to get a sense of what could come next for the transfer tool.

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