“I have read and accept the Terms and Conditions” is the biggest lie we tell when we sign up for new services, register for new sites or download new apps. How many of us can really say we have read these –1 sized Ariel Font, legalise policy documents ?
Facebook has just such policy documents and just like many other companies, reserved the right to update its policy document when it sees fit.
Recently Facebook has fallen foul of the law by using people’s pictures in “sponsored story” ads without permission. It was eventually settled that Facebook will need to pay 614 000 users $9 million as part of a $20 million legal settlement. The balance of the money will be distributed amongst legal fees and various non-profit organisations.
Following this faux pas, Facebook wasted no time in announcing that following comments and feedback from the Facebook community, they will be updating two crucial policy documents: its Data Use Policy and the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. In an email from Erin Egan, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer, it is explained that “We update these documents from time to time to make sure we keep you posted about the latest things you can do with Facebook”. The email goes on to explain that the main changes are:
How advertising works on Facebook
· What to expect when it comes to using your name, profile picture, content and personal info with ads or commercial content
· How to control or remove apps you’ve used
· What data you’re sharing with mobile devices
So what do you need to be aware of as a Facebook user ?
In light of these changes, I have picked out some of the proposed changes you should be aware of. I have used the “Track Changes” (highlighted in red) to show the portions of the documents that have changed from their original versions in December 2011 to the new ones in September 2013.
1. Smile – your pic can be used in an advert:
At their discretion, Facebook can now legally use your name, profile pic, content that you post and any information you have in your profile for their Sponsored Stories without legal reproach.
Even though the document does say that they will need to get your consent first, what is concerning is that you can no longer opt out of this by changing your privacy settings.
2. More Data from and about you:
Facebook has always been allowed and able to collect various forms of information whenever you use the network. This section has been extended somewhat to include not just IP address, but your mobile number, operating system and GPS location.
3. How Ads are delivered:
Facebook has rewritten the Advertising Section to make it clearer about how adverts are served to you and thus forever ending the argument of “does Facebook ‘read my timeline’ and things I post”. Yes. They Do.
Adverts are sent to you based on :
- information you provide at registration or add to your account or timeline,
- things you share and do on Facebook, such as what you like, and your interactions with advertisements, partners, or apps,
- keywords from your stories,
- things we infer from your use of Facebook.
interestingly the section that reads “We do not share any of your information with advertisers” is now crossed out.
There was a rumour that Facebook was going to start charging users to use its services. Even though it was just an internet-rumour, there was an outcry from the Facebook population screaming “foul!” The privacy of information is a vicious circle. People want to feel that their personal information is protected and yet they still want to get the service for free. The companies running these services need to protect their user’s info but also need to monetise their offering – they are a business after all. These latest Facebook changes are aimed at enticing advertisers to tap into this large, highly mined and targeted data set that each one of the millions of Facebook users is helping contribute towards. Ads are not going away and so if you are going to get served an Ad, why not have that ad is relevant to you? If the idea of Facebook having access to your life is freaking you out, perhaps you should censor what you post, or consider closing your Facebook account. However make no mistake, other similar services have the same policy terms too.
I recall my first email address was some [email protected] as you never give your private name online. These days are long gone. Whilst Privacy of Information is a big concern amongst us “oldies”, it seems that amongst the younger generation this is less so. When you think that these are the workforce of tomorrow, the privacy of information will need to adapt faster than ever before. And Ads are just going to morph too – not go away.