Facebook will crack down on unwanted ad targeting by email

It could prevent another Cambridge Analytica-style data scandal.

Facebook is still determined to limit data access in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. TechCrunch has learned that the social network is launching a certification tool requiring advertisers to pledge that they've obtained your permission before using your email address for ad targeting. The company has "always had terms in place" that required consent, Facebook spokesperson Elisabeth Diana said in confirming the report, but it's aiming to make those terms "much more prominent." It will also "educate advertisers" on how they can use that data.

The company added that the tool wasn't in response to a specific incident. However, the firm does expect to reexamine its involvement with outside data measurement partners to ensure they handle info in a responsible way.

Whether or not this is a reaction to Cambridge Analytica, there's no question that Facebook has been improving its privacy controls in the days since the data sharing scandal became public. In addition to slapping restrictions on third-party data providers, it recently introduced a simpler way to manage and delete data on your phone. Facebook wants you to know what you're sharing and where that data is going.

The main question here is implementation: how will this permission tool work? Facebook declined to elaborate, so it's difficult to say whether the tool will actively enforce the email requirements or just obtain promises. If it's the latter, that could be a problem. Facebook's terms didn't prevent the misleading data collection and sharing in the Cambridge Analytica mess -- a stern warning isn't likely to deter unscrupulous advertisers bent on collecting your email info without asking.