Facebook alters privacy policy: Is your personal data now 'fair game'?

Summary:Facebook is making changes to its terms of service which will change the way you use the site. If you do not like the changes you have until tomorrow to comment. Or you can just delete your account.

Facebook is making several changes to its terms of service which will change the way you use the site.  If you do not like the changes you have until later today to comment.  Or you can delete your Facebook account.

Firstly the term 'Privacy Policy' is going away and being replaced with the term 'Data Use Policy'. 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.

Credit: Facebook

Credit: Facebook

The Current Privacy policy, now renamed 'Data Use' policy explains how Facebook currently uses your information.  For example:

If you want to hide aspects of your profile, remember that you are only hiding it from being visible to your Facebook friends:

'Currently, your Facebook friend list is always available to the games, applications and websites you use, and your friendships may be visible elsewhere (such as on your friends' profiles or in searches).

Similarly, if you choose to hide your gender, it only hides it on your profile. This is because (Facebook), just like the applications you and your friends use, need(s) to use your gender to refer to you properly on the site'.

Emil has more information on the statement of rights and responsibilities.

Applications now in control?

You could delete your content.  But:

'When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others)'.

Facebook applications get a lot more access to your data too.  And it's not only the applications that you have specifically authorised.  Now 'When you, or others who can see your content and information, use an application your content and information is shared with the application'.

Applications that your friends have authorised will now know a lot more about you than before.  Facebook does state that it requires 'applications to respect your privacy, and your agreement with that application will control how the application can use, store, and transfer that content and information'.

More downtime?

Another change to the terms is that Facebook will no longer guarantee uptime:

WE DO NOT GUARANTEE THAT FACEBOOK WILL ALWAYS BE AVAILABLE, ACCESSIBLE, UNINTERRUPTED, SAFE, OR SECURE OR ERROR-FREE OR THAT FACEBOOK WILL ALWAYS FUNCTION WITHOUT DISRUPTIONS, DELAYS OR IMPERFECTIONS.

This is a change from the original wording of:

WE DO NOT GUARANTEE THAT FACEBOOK WILL BE SAFE OR SECURE.

Be prepared for other worldwide outages such as the one that happened across Europe earlier this month.

Facebook has posted a statement of Rights and Responsibilities and you can comment on the changes on the Facebook Site Governance page. Remember you only have until March 22nd to comment.

Businesses may relish the changes -- after all they are trying to market their goods and services and bring targeted advertising to your Facebook profile.  But will this change impact the way that Facebook users continue to share information with each other?

As many users will not be aware of, or will not care about the changes, I think the answer will be a simple 'no'.

Related content:

Topics: Social Enterprise

About

Eileen Brown is a social business consultant who has been working with collaborative technologies for 20 years. Eileen creates the social business, energises communities and ignites social commerce and social CRM. She develops social business strategy, customer reach and online branding. Her book, Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketi... Full Bio

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