Facebook Changes Its Privacy Policies -- Will Anybody Care?


Google made some changes to its privacy policy last month, and from the outrage one would think they’d announced they were conducting warrantless wiretaps.

The changes have drawn the attention of state attorneys general, French privacy regulators — who submitted a detailed questionnaire for Google to fill out — and, just yesterday, a private class action suit.

All because Google basically decided to stop collecting information from its sites (search, Gmail, YouTube, and so on) separately and start consolidating it. Like every other Web portal already does. Google says it didn’t change the type of information it collects, or what it does with it.

(Of course, Google could be lying, but we’re talking about changes to a published privacy policy, not sneaky tricks uncovered later.)

So here’s a little test for the privacy watchdogs.

Recently, Facebook proposed some changes to its privacy policy. They’re detailed here in a PDF, with all the new parts marked in red and deletions marked in blue. They will go into effect soon. You have until 5 p.m. today to make comments if you don’t like them.

Most of them are very minor, but a couple stood out. For instance, Facebook added the words in bold-face to this part:

  • When you or others who can see your content and information use an application, your content and information is shared with the application.

Catch that? It used to be when you use an app, that app could get your content. Now, when OTHER people use an app, and you’ve shared your info with those other people, the app can see your info.

This actually isn’t new, but Facebook is updating its privacy policy (now called Data Use Policy) to reflect it for the first time.

There’s also this totally new section about apps updating themselves automatically:

  • If you download our software, such as a stand alone software product or a browser plugin, you agree that from time to time, the software may download upgrades, updates and additional features from us in order to improve, enhance and further develop the software.

And this bit of boilerplate legal language:

  • We reserve all rights not expressly granted to you.

Is any of this a big deal? No. Not for normal people. It’s exactly what tons of other Internet sites do.

But the Google changes were similarly mundane.

So cue the outrage!

(Then, if you really want to see a true example of privacy violations, take 15 minutes to read this Wired cover article about the National Security Agency. Hint: it’s not about tracking cookies.)

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.