Facebook Proposes Updates to Key Policy Documents Governing User Data

fb_site_governanceYesterday, Facebook proposed changes to its Data Use Policy and its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. The changes were brought up as a part of a settlement in an advertising court case, and most of the changes involve Facebook’s handling of public user data.

Facebook almost completely rewrote its advertising policy page, making it abundantly clear that anything users upload publicly on Facebook can be used as data to target ads. By registering for Facebook, the rules now read, “You give [Facebook] permission to use your name, profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content.” However, Facebook said that if you selected a particular audience to see your content, they will “respect” your choice.

However, anything you put on the site can be shared by Facebook and given to third parties. “We may enable access to public information that has been shared through our services, or allow service providers to access information so they can help us provide service,” the rule reads. You probably didn’t need another reminder, but this is yet another great reason to ensure your privacy settings are adequate.

In another somewhat sinister though unsurprising rule change, Facebook now also claims the right in its data usage rules to know what kind device you’re using to access the site. In the proposed update, Facebook also made it explicitly clear that they have retained the right to find and use your geolocation data, meaning the site can use your physical location to target advertising.

The policy changes also made it clear that any data you give to third party applications will remain in their hands in perpetuity, even if you get rid of the app. While many people assume that Facebook controls user data with apps, the apps in question actually receive a copy of your data information and keep it on file forever unless users specifically request that they delete it.

This news is sure to cause a huge ripple in the tech and privacy communities, and its impact is just beginning to be felt. However, much of the new policy language reflects practices that Facebook already implements. The real surprise is seeing all of the rules in black and white language.

Image Credit: Facebook

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