Facebook Launches Simplified Privacy Policy

Addressing a top concern among a majority of U.S. consumers, Facebook on Thursday debuted a simplified privacy policy.

A new information resource, Privacy Basics, offers tips and a how-to guide “for taking charge of your experience on Facebook,” in the words of Erin Egan, chief privacy officer at the social giant. “Protecting people’s information and providing meaningful privacy controls are at the core of everything we do.”

Despite these claims, privacy experts say pushing the limits of personal privacy remains key to the business models of Web giants like Facebook and Google.

Facebook is making it easier for users to control the types of ads they are served across devices. “In the past, if you opted out of certain kinds of advertising on your laptop, that choice may not have been applied for ads on your phone,” according to Egan. “It should be easy for you to make a single choice that applies across all of your devices.”



In its updated privacy policy, Facebook tries to clearly explain how it acquires location information depending on the features members decide to use. Referencing Facebook’s Buy button, Egan said the company is working on new ways to make ecommerce transactions more secure.

In the new Basics section, subjects include untagging, unfriending, blocking, and how users can choose desired audiences for their posts.

Still, privacy experts predict that Facebook and it rivals will continue to push the limits of user privacy. “Most of what happens in the marketing world today is done out of competitiveness and necessity,” Joseph Turow, a Robert Lewis Shayon Professor at UPenn’s Annenberg School of Communication, said last month. In particular, “Facebook is doing what it wants to do … and the name of the game is personalization,” Turow told attendees of the OMMA RTB conference.

Even among younger users, Turow insisted that the vast majority of consumers are ignorant of “what’s happening” -- i.e., the degree to which tech companies and marketers are tracking — and profiting from — their behavioral, buying history and personal information.

Yet data privacy is clearly top-of-mind for many consumers. The majority (80%) of social networking users say they are concerned that the data they share on such services will be accessed by advertisers or businesses, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. For its report, Pew commissioned a January survey of 607 adults.

Regarding the data that Facebook shares with marketers, Egan stressed: “Nothing is changing with these updates -- we help advertisers reach people with relevant ads without telling them who you are.”

For the next week, Facebook is also inviting users to comment on its privacy policy, and submit related questions. After a review, the company then plans to release a final version of its privacy policy.
Next story loading loading..