Facebook rolls out major privacy change in South Africa

Facebook has started prompting South African users with a consent form to review their data settings, apparently to comply with the country’s Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA).

It asked users to review specially protected personal data, and select in which products it may use data about you for targeted advertising.

“Your government sets special rules and protections around the processing of ‘Special Categories of Personal Data,’” the company stated.

These special categories of data include religious views, political views, or whether users are interested in men or women.

“We allow you to add this information on your profile so that the people you want can see it. We receive, process and store this information when you choose to add it.”

According to Facebook, adding religious views to your profile will make them visible to your selected audience, such as your friends.

“We may also suggest related Facebook groups for you to join based on your faith, for example,” it said.

“If you decide not to add your religious views, we won’t use this information to suggest groups or other features or products.”

Facebook also gave users in South Africa an opportunity to adjust how it uses their data to target advertisements to them.

“We receive data from advertisers, app developers and publishers about you and your interactions with them off Meta Company Products,” it said.

Meta’s products include Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus.

Facebook said that partners might share activities on websites and apps that use Facebook Business Tools, such as its pixel or Software Development Kit, including when you buy something online or download an app.

This also includes offline interactions with partners, such as buying a helmet at a cycling shop.

“When we use data from advertisers, app developers, and publishers to
decide which ads to show you, you may see ads for hotel deals if you visit
travel websites,” the company explained.

“Or if a business lets us know that you bought running shoes, you may see ads for other items of sportswear.”

If you block it from using this type of data, Facebook said you’d see the same number of ads, but they may not be as relevant.

MyBroadband asked Meta Platforms for comment on the rollout of Facebook’s POPIA consent workflow in South Africa.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to give people better control and transparency over how their information is used, we periodically request their consent to use data,” a Meta company spokesperson said.

A step-by-step guide documenting Facebook’s POPIA consent form is included below.


First screen — Review data settings before you may access Facebook

Facebook is blocking South African users from accessing their profiles until they complete the POPIA consent form.

Notice on Special Categories of Personal Data

Facebook says the South African government has designated special protected data categories, including religious views, political views, and intimate preferences.

How Facebook uses your religious views

Facebook may use your religious and political views to recommend groups and target ads at you.

Facebook protected data summary screen

Facebook presents a screen summarising what information you have provided regarding your personal views.

Confirmation screen — Protected data

Confirmation screen after setting your preferences on sharing your personal views.

Facebook advertising targeting data notice

After your personal views settings, Facebook presents a notice about how it may use data to target advertising at you.
Facebook explains how it may use knowledge of your demographics and likes.

Facebook ads partner data notice

Facebook provides examples of how it may use data for targeted advertising.

Facebook partner products data sharing

Facebook lets you enable or disable on which products it may use your data for targeted advertising. Note the absence of WhatsApp, where targeted advertising is not available.

Facebook ads data review confirmation screen

Confirmation screen after completing the targeted advertising section.

Facebook data review confirmation screen

Confirmation screen after completing Facebook’s POPIA data settings review.

Now read: Facebook to be prosecuted in South Africa for abusing its dominance

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Facebook rolls out major privacy change in South Africa