Facebook seems to change their policy quite a lot of late and it’s one of our missions to help you keep on top of these things. So, in a nutshell here’s our thoughts on the new policies.(to go into effect in April sometime). Here’s a link to the redlined Facebook privacy policy released 3/26 on Box.net.

To give Facebook some credit they seem to be responding to the public outcry the last time they arbitrarily changed privacy guidelines and Facebook users were up in arms. This time users have until 12:00am Pacific Time on April 3, 2010 to give their feedback to the company on the new policies. It’s a good guess that the policy itself will be finalized just in time for their f8 developer conference on April 21.

And here is our take on what it all means. (As always read the privacy policy for yourself on Facebook and go back to read the updates frequently. We can’t even begin to say that this is the final released version or that there won’t be other changes).

Multiple accounts

Plenty of people have multiple Facebook accounts and it’s always been a no-no. It sounds like they plan to enforce it this time though. And if your account is cancelled? “You will not create another one without our permission.” Who knows how they plan to enforce that but there are a lot of good reasons for it, not the least to mention cluttering up their servers with multiple dead accounts and spammers using fake accounts to make their own fan pages and comment streams more popular.

Transactional information

If you don’t want Facebook to store your transactional information remove your payment information on your payments page after each transaction.

Tracking actions you take on Facebook

It sounds like they will NOT be tracking when you join a group or Fan a fan page in future. Whether this means that when someone fans your page or joins your group it will not automatically show up on that person’s timeline we are not sure.

Sharing links

You give us permission to use and allow others to use such links and content on Facebook.

In our mind this could mean that if you post a link on your profile your friends have implicit permission to share it and so do the third party tools that scan Facebook for popular links to add to their own networks. So the innocent post you wrote about the glories of your Farm could end up on the home page of an aggregator somewhere far far away. Or they could use that information to target you and your friends with carefully delivered ads.

While we’re talking about ads

“You will not directly or indirectly transfer any data you receive from us to (or use such data in connection with) any ad network, ad exchange, data broker, or other advertising related toolset, even if a user consents to that transfer or use.”

Sounds to me like ad networks are already doing this and Facebook wants to reserve that right for themselves. (those target ads on the right side of your Facebook profile, remember?) In any case, hopefully it will limit abuse somewhat, but how they will enforce this is unclear.

And the Third Party Applications

Pardon the long quote here, but this could be a big deal: “We do not own or operate the applications or web sites that you use through Facebook Platform (such as games and utilities). Whenever you connect with a Platform application or web site, we will receive information from them, including information about actions you take. In some cases, in order to personalize the process of connecting, we may receive a limited amount of information even before you connect with the application or web site. Information from other web sites. We may institute programs with advertising partners and other web sites in which they share information with us: * We may ask advertisers to tell us how our users responded to the ads we showed them (and for comparison purposes, how other users who didn’t see the ads acted on their site). This data sharing, commonly known as “conversion tracking,” helps us measure our advertising effectiveness and improve the quality of the advertisements you see. * We may receive information about whether or not you’ve seen or interacted with certain ads on other sites in order to measure the effectiveness of those ads. If in any of these cases we receive data that we do not already have, we will “anonymize” it within 180 days, meaning we will stop associating the information with any particular user. If we institute these programs, we will only use the information in the ways we explain in the “How We Use Your Information” section below.

It’s been clear in the past that Facebook wants to control access and retain information these Facebook applications get from Facebook users. And well they should. BUT, remember how Beacon showed what users from Facebook were doing on other sites and the outrage it raised from it’s users? This may be a second attempt at the same thing. Or not. Facebook recently changed they way applications interact with users and forced users to opt-in to receiving emails from the applications. This could just be an extension of that idea. Some comment on sites like Inside Facebook wonder if this has to do with forcing applications and possibly other sites to use Facebook connect in order to register more Facebook users.

SO What do you think about the new changes?

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One comment on “Further Changes to Facebook’s Privacy Policy and What it Means for You

  • There are really only three privacy options on the Internet: 1.) OPEN – you understand that this is a publishing medium and anything you post, email or otherwise memorialize digitally may end up on the front page of the New York Times; 2.) IT’S COMPLICATED – you will fiddle and tweak your settings on Facebook and elsewhere but you understand this is future because you will be unable to keep up with all the changes; 3.) OFF THE GRID – you will send me a postcard when you get work.

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