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Facebook Home: Know What You're Getting Into
By: Jessica Cherok
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How impressed is everyone with Facebook Home? Well, as it turns out, not very.

At least that’s what the data suggests from Google Play reviews. Nearly a week after Home’s release, the app had received an average rating of 2.3 stars. To be fair, it should be noted that Facebook Home is only available on certain phones. But that only explains the low download numbers, not the low rating.

So what’s wrong with Facebook Home?

Right now it seems like a lot.

There are a lot of comments related to clunky functionality, but more concerning are comments related to privacy concerns. More concerning, but definitely typical Facebook.

A few years ago, back when the Facebook mobile app was first released, we discovered the app was sneaking into our text messages, photos, email, and location services and basically spying on us. It was so bad that it caught the attention of the Federal Trade Commission, which filed charges of deceptive privacy practices against Facebook.

While Facebook cleaned up their mobile app’s behavior, it’s easy to see that Facebook Home was designed with the same all-encompassing monitoring of what you’re up to. Only this time with consent. But when you look at the TOS changes from earlier this year, does anyone really have a clear idea of what Facebook Home is doing with your information?

Facebook released an app update last week that largely included bug fixes, except for one slightly ominous update: glance at your phone for the latest photos and posts from your friends.

What does that have to do with Facebook Home? Well, nothing, if you’re the person who downloaded Home on your phone, but for those of us that didn’t, it means a lot. Facebook Home doesn’t need additional permission from the user or the Facebook app to access additional information.

That’s a roundabout way is saying that Facebook Home may be able to access your friends’ information without their knowledge. And that is — and always has been — an issue with Facebook.

This may be best summarized as a dating scenario. Using the Facebook app is like dating, but using Facebook Home is like asking someone to move in. You need to make darn sure they aren’t rifling through your belongings without permission.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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