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Facebook Updates Privacy Policy and Terms
By: Jennifer Graber
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Privacy policies and terms of use are probably two of the least-read items on any website or app. Most users simply click the appropriate box and go on their merry way. Besides, if you actually attempted to read the policies and terms, all that would be accomplished is confusion. Such items are not written in language for the everyday user. Much like amendments on ballots, these policies and terms are written not to explain, but to make something sound great and distract the user. Facebook is certainly no exception to this. The social media site has long been known not only for its lengthy privacy policy, but also its tendency to sneak changes in without alerting users.
However, Facebook has taken a step past all of that in an attempt at transparency and information. Facebook worked with the Better Business Bureau to create a new privacy policy that is aiming to be more “user friendly.” The site announced Thursday that it was condensing its privacy policy by about two-thirds and using more understandable language. This change was done in hopes that users would be better able to understand Facebook’s policies. The previous policy was approximately 9,000 words, and the proposed policy is just under 3,000 words. Having a 9,000-word privacy policy seems ridiculous. What person could read that entire document and retain all of the information? Thus, it seems as if Facebook is off to a good start with fostering better understanding amongst its users.
One of the changes Facebook made is to create the Privacy Basics page. The new page is an animated guide that explains how to control information seen by others, how others can interact with you, who sees your posts, a privacy checkup, and other high-use privacy settings and questions. The page will be available in 36 languages.
Facebook also made changes to its terms of use/policy. The social media site updated it policies regarding how it collects and uses location gathering information. Facebook has also added a Buy button and made changes to the policy to show how payment information is used. Other privacy and usage changes made by the social site include: how information is received and used, and how third-party apps and advertisers interact with your data.
One thing left unchanged is that users still cannot control what information advertisers can use. Advertisers can use data collected by Wi-Fi, GPS, or Bluetooth to target ads. Users will still see ads for nearby businesses and so forth. However, users are urged to read up on how to control their preferences. Facebook users have the option to personalize what sort of ads they will see. Basically, the social media giant is trying to get its users to help create a better advertising platform.
Users have the chance to provide feedback and comments on the proposed changes until November 20. After a finalized edition is adopted, it will be put in use 30 days later. It is nice to see that Facebook is making it easier to understand its policies and terms, but data control is still in the hands of the social site, not users. Do you feel that it is an issue? Or should a company retain a majority control? And is there any point at which there would be a revolt and users would get far more input or stop using the site altogether?

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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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