New Facebook Privacy Policy

New Facebook Privacy Policy

Introduction

To many, the varied privacy policies of many of the web’s most popular websites, are confusing. Confusion leads to enmity, and hostility leads to utter distrust. Facebook is one of many sites of which people have become wary.

Fortunately, Facebook recently introduced a new privacy policy, which is already in effect– it was put in place on November 13th, 2014. It cut down the “legalese” of the social network’s privacy policy, condensing it by two-thirds from over 9,000 words to about 2,700 words.

Clarity

Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, told the Wall Street Journal, “Our goal is to make the information about Facebook as clear as possible. Our hope is that it won’t take long for people to read through this and really get it.”

As part of helping individuals to understand how Facebook’s new privacy policy works, the company released an accompanying “Privacy Basics” tutorial. Also, the new privacy policy is color coded and has graphics helping to hit home certain points.

Why it Happened

Of course, this change in privacy policy was not unprovoked. Facebook has been criticized in the past for how they use user data. They agreed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2011 to ask users’ permission before changing the manner in which information is handled and gathered.

In recent months, Facebook has allowed users to disconnect from targeted ads based on browsing history off of the site. As a precursor to this new privacy policy, it offered a “Privacy Checkup” to users– it gave tips on how to better control user data.

It should be emphasized that the changes in privacy policy don’t affect the amount of data collected. Apparently, it makes it clearer what is collected, however. It has been made clearer that Facebook does use GPS, Wi-Fi, etc. to determine location, and it collects credit card information, shipping addresses, and contact details for purchases made through Facebook.

Opposition

Still, some want more. For example, Facebook partners with research companies such as Nielsen, Datalogix, and Acxiom to measure the effectiveness of advertisements; many would like for their data not to be bundled and shared with these third parties.

“We want to simplify really that,” Pam Dixon, executive director of the advocacy group World Privacy Forum, said. “We want a one-click, get us out.” Facebook claims it’s not just that simple or easy– “it’s not technically feasible.  Many other pundits, such as Wired, just argue that it won’t matter, as internet users will still not read the policy.

Even if they do disagree with Facebook’s intentions to collect info about purchase behavior or use their exact location to display targeted advertisements, most will likely soon move on and continue to use Facebook.

Nevertheless, should one be interested, there is a new, approachable, question-and-answer style policy at which to take a gander. Questions that are answered include “What kinds of information do we collect?” and “How can I manage and delete information about me?”

Conclusion

Wired sees it all as just a half-step in a right direction. Many media sources have taken this view. It corrects the wrong of adding more controversial changes into the policy– as has been done in the past– while still not jeopardizing the social network’s success.

On a final note, it should be mentioned that Facebook is now allowing users to “customize” the ads that they see on a browser or the official app.

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