Facebook plans free training for small businesses struggling with user privacy

A helpful gesture or PR chicanery?

Man checking GDPR compliance

If you've opened any websites in the last week or so, you'll likely have been taken aback by the sudden and unprecedented interest in your privacy they're all showing. In Europe, that's all thanks to the now-enforced GDPR regulation, but around the world, privacy is back on the table. Today Facebook - itself no stranger to concerns over user privacy - has announced plans to help train small and medium businesses on how to effectively build privacy into their services.

The priority seems to be helping US businesses to get their houses in order. Stateside, Facebook has partnered with TeachPrivacy to offer free training courses covering ten things that small and medium businesses should know. The courses will be touring the country, with stops at Baltimore; New Orleans; San Diego; East Palo Alto, California; and Edison, New Jersey.

The EU hasn't been completely forgotten though. A course designed to help small and medium businesses navigate the tricky world of GDPR has also been developed with the consulting firm Promontory, and it will be beginning next week in Berlin and Dublin.

Not all of Facebook's business training opportunities require you to get to a nearby (or not-so-nearby) city, however. The company also announced a partnership with HackerOne, which will be contributing to the company's FbStart programme. Aimed at early-stage mobile startups, the company will be offering its expertise in build and growing apps securely, with tips on how to ensure security and data protection are built in from the ground up. This will be accompanied by webinars and events for developers to get guidance straight from the HackerOne team.

There's more to come too, apparently. In a blog post announcing the news Rob Sherman, Facebook's deputy chief privacy officer, wrote: "These partnerships are the first of several steps Facebook will be taking over the coming months to help educate people about privacy, whether they are using Facebook for business, building on our platform or connecting with friends."

It's easy to dismiss such projects as PR masquerading as education. Given its recent troubles, getting people to associate Facebook with best privacy practices is certainly helpful for the company. But even if that is part of the motivation at play here, with security and privacy becoming more important, small and medium businesses should certainly think twice before looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Picture: Bigstock

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