Facebook’s Proposed Privacy Policy Updates Expand ‘Data-Collecting Tactics’

Facebook will soon be updating its privacy policy in the name of making its “practices and policies more clear.” Where have we heard that before (think Google)?

(Related: Google’s new privacy policy rolls out today despite opposition)

According to a post on its site governance page about the policy update, Facebook states that the changes include some “clearer” language updates as well as administrative and site safety updates. PC World had an attorney review the updates and she said they are really about expanding Facebook’s role in reaching and distributing your personal data:

“In general, the changes reflect the fact that Facebook is extending its data-collecting tactics in all directions: towards people who never even signed up for Facebook, activities that aren’t clearly defined as sharing, and mediums that aren’t clearly defined as advertising,” Sarah A. Downey, an attorney with Abine, a Boston-based provider of online privacy services.

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“Furthermore, this statement is take it or leave it: users agree to it simply by using Facebook,” she added. “Most of them will never know when or if the terms change, let alone what they mean.”

ZDNet points out that Facebook is also changing the name of the policy itself from “Privacy Policy” to “Data Use Policy,” a move which ZDNet says better reflects what the document actual describes:

In a way this is a good change. Facebook will use the information you provide according to the privacy settings you have specified.  Facebook will however, use all of the data that you have given it.

ZDNet also explains that even apps you choose not to authorize yourself will know more about you. Facebook states that when those who can see your content — like your friends — use an application “your content and information is shared with the application.”

If you don’t like these changes, you have until COB Pacific time on Friday to send Facebook your thoughts. PC World notes that according to Facebook’s rights statement, if feedback on a change exceeds 7,000 comments, the whole Facebook community will be given alternatives and be asked to vote.

Facebook states that your continued use of your account will signify your acceptance of their new policy once it is finalized.

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