Facebook opens cafés to encourage privacy checks with your coffee

Posted Aug 17, 2019 by Tim Sandle
Facebook has announced the opening of five Privacy Cafes, which have been established to help users navigate privacy settings while enjoying a free drink. Facebook is attempting to show it cares about protecting user data, but not all are convinced.
Facebook said its settlement with US regulators would usher in a new era of better data protection p...
Facebook said its settlement with US regulators would usher in a new era of better data protection practices
Facebook is to open five pop-up cafes giving out free drinks across the U.K. at the end of this month, with the first one to open in London on August 28, 2019. The other locations are Brighton, Manchester, Cardiff and Edinburgh. The aim is to teach users of the social media service about Facebook privacy settings while enjoying a free cup of coffee or tea.
Steve Hatch, vice-president of Facebook northern Europe, explains: "At our pop-up cafés you can get help and advice on how to change your privacy settings – and all in the time it takes to make a cup of coffee."
As for the motivation behind this move, the London Evening Standard Facebook has found out from Facebook that the cafés are the result of a recent poll which found that 27 percent of U.K. users of Facebook are unaware how to customize their social media privacy settings. The idea may also be a part public relations exercise to offset the negative publicity that surrounded Facebook as the result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Because of this and other issues, the U.S. Financial Trade Commission is seeking to fine Facebook $5 billion for various privacy violations.
Not everyone is enamored with the concept. According to Jo O’Reilly, privacy advocate at, the development is more of a distraction tactic than a true fix. O’Reilly tells Digital Journal: "Facebook's ‘Privacy Cafes' is little more than a gimmick to save face in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which has been in the spotlight again recently following Netflix documentary The Great Hack."
She adds: "The idea itself has merit: many people don’t know how to successfully navigate the myriad of privacy options available to them and are therefore unable to ensure they have the right level of privacy for their own comfort and security."
And in terms of an alternative, she recommends: "If Facebook really wants to make amends for past transgressions and live up to their new privacy-centered ethos, they could consider using some of their not-inconsiderable profit to fund digital privacy education sessions in colleges, youth clubs, libraries and other community centers across London, instead of handing out branded skinny lattes in one of London's trendiest, and already tech-literate, post-codes."