New Facebook Privacy Policy Draft Now Open for Feedback

As it did with changes around its at-one-time controversial terms of service earlier this year, Facebook is making a new draft of its privacy policies available for public comment. You can view it here; comments can be left on the Facebook Site Governance page.

Part of the intent with this draft is to provide a “clearer and more comprehensive” description of what the policies actually mean, something Facebook also did with its terms earlier this year. Writing clear legal language and asking for feedback about it are two things that most companies never do, and something that Facebook has made a policy this year. The Facebook blog post on the matter includes a sample of how it has rewritten legalese to be more legible to most users. Facebook is also aiming to further satisfy the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, which has pushed the company to adopt more detailed rules about a number of practices, including better informing users what data they are sharing, and with whom.

There are also a few interesting new components of this latest draft. One is a blurb on “location,” where Facebook says it will treat your location as subject to your overall privacy settings (share with “everyone,” just “friends,etc.); the company confirmed with TechCrunch that this part is entirely new. The Facebook legal team, at least, is preparing for the possibility of more location-based services.

In terms of advertising, Facebook has included language that allows it to provide general statistics about users who interact with ads, but not personally identifiable information. Facebook also says:

We may institute programs with advertising partners and other websites 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.

Other notable reiterations of previous policies include what Facebook has to say to developers. “We do not guarantee that Platform will always be free,” for example, which is perhaps not so surprising given that the company previously charged a small fee to developers who wanted to be in its “Verified Apps” program. That program, in which Facebook staffers examined applications, gave them a “verified app” seal of approval, and gave them special placement within Facebook features, is no longer. The company announced yesterday that it is going to look at every application, and more closely police any one that does not meet its quality standards. Another interesting line for third-party developers: “We can create applications that offer similar features and services to, or otherwise compete with, your application.” Facebook has already done this, or considered doing this, in some circumstances.

The policy page for this document has 62 comments so far, after the new draft was released today. A large portion of commenters have asked for a “red-line” version, where they can see the changes that Facebook made versus the previous draft. Also, unlike with the TOS changes, Facebook is not putting the new draft up for a vote (given the relatively small turnout for the TOS vote last April, the company perhaps figured it wasn’t worth the effort).

Here’s the sample draft rewrite from the blog post today.

Old:

When you update information, we usually keep a backup copy of the prior version for a reasonable period of time to enable reversion to the prior version of that information. …
… Even after removal, copies of User Content may remain viewable in cached and archived pages or if other Users have copied or stored your User Content. …
Access and control over most personal information on Facebook is readily available through the profile editing tools. Facebook users may modify or delete any of their profile information at any time by logging into their account. Information will be updated immediately. Individuals who wish to deactivate their Facebook account may do so on the My Account page. Removed information may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time but will not be generally available to members of Facebook.

New:

Viewing and editing your profile. You may change or delete your profile information at any time by going to your profile page and clicking “Edit My Profile.” Information will be updated immediately. While you cannot delete your date of birth, you can use the setting on the info tab of your profile information page to hide all or part of it from other users. …

Deactivating or deleting your account. If you want to stop using your account you may deactivate it or delete it. When you deactivate an account, no user will be able to see it, but it will not be deleted. We save your profile information (friends, photos, interests, etc.) in case you later decide to reactivate your account. Many users deactivate their accounts for temporary reasons and in doing so are asking us to maintain their information until they return to Facebook. You will still have the ability to reactivate your account and restore your profile in its entirety. When you delete an account, it is permanently deleted. You should only delete your account if you are certain you never want to reactivate it. You may deactivate your account on your account settings page or delete your account on this help page.

Limitations on removal. Even after you remove information from your profile or delete your account, copies of that information may remain viewable elsewhere to the extent it has been shared with others, it was otherwise distributed pursuant to your privacy settings, or it was copied or stored by other users. However, your name will no longer be associated with that information on Facebook. (For example, if you post something to another user’s profile, and then you delete your account, that post may remain, but be attributed to an “Anonymous Facebook User.”) Additionally, we may retain certain information to prevent identity theft and other misconduct even if deletion has been requested.

Backup copies. Removed and deleted information may persist in backup copies for up to 90 days, but will not be available to others.



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