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Facebook agrees to update terms of service following political pressure

Even though pressure originated within the EU, the social network is applying the changes globally.

European Union Flag is seen on an android mobile phone with

Facebook has bowed to political pressure.

Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook on Tuesday agreed to update its terms of service, clarifying the language around what it does with customer data, following pressure from within the EU.

The social network reached the decision after discussions with the European Commission and a coalition of consumer rights groups, which accused Facebook of not being clear enough how it uses customer data to make money. 

The actual content of the terms of service won't change, but the language very much will. Facebook agreed to make the changes, which it will apply globally, by the end of June.

"Today Facebook finally shows commitment to more transparency and straight forward language in its terms of use," said Vera Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, in a statement. "A company that wants to restore consumers trust after the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal should not hide behind complicated, legalistic jargon on how it is making billions on people's data."

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Facebook is on a mission to prove its trustworthiness and improve transparency into its practices following revelations in 2018 that consumer data had been mishandled, most notably in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Separately, representatives from Facebook were due to appear in Congress on Tuesday to testify regarding hate crimes and white nationalism. Many of the changes the company has made over the past year in the wake of the scandal have meant talking more openly with lawmakers and government officials around the world, as well as with its users.

"We've been doing a lot of work this year to better explain how Facebook works, what data we collect and how we use it," said Facebook's managing director of EU affairs, Thomas Myrup Kristensen. "As part of these ongoing efforts, we'll be updating our Terms of Service to be more clear about how Facebook makes money."