Updates to Facebook’s Privacy Policy

Facebook has updated their privacy policy and statement of rights and responsibilities once again.  Nothing really struck me as “big” when I read through them.  As a matter of fact, they were quite clean and more transparent then I’ve seen in the past.  Here are a few highlights:

” 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”

Translation:  It’s important to note that if you post something then remove it, or even delete your account – that post may still exist.  Lesson:  Don’t post anything that can bite you later or that potentially compromises your own copyrights.

“we do not own or operate the applications or websites that use Facebook Platform. That means that when you use those applications and websites you are making your Facebook information available to someone other than Facebook.”

“When you connect with an application or website it will have access to General Information about you. The term General Information includes your and your friends’ names, profile pictures, gender, connections, and any content shared using the Everyone privacy setting.”

“If your friend connects with an application or website, it will be able to access your name, profile picture, gender, user ID, and information you have shared with “everyone.” It will also be able to access your connections, except it will not be able to access your friend list”

Translation:  When you play a game, take a quiz, use an application – it collects demographic information about you AND your friends.  If you have specifically blocked an application from your privacy settings then your information is safe.  My question is: How do I block an application if I don’t know it exists?

“Facebook is about sharing information with others — friends and people in your communities — while providing you with privacy settings that you can use to restrict other users from accessing some of your information. We share your information with third parties when we believe the sharing is permitted by you, reasonably necessary to offer our services, or when legally required to do so”

Translation:  Facebook shares when it thinks it can, regardless as to whether or not you’ve specifically given it permission to do so.  You can opt-out, but you are opted-in by default.  Lesson:  If you are here to hide, you are in the wrong place.

“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

Additionally, we may retain certain information to prevent identity theft and other misconduct even if deletion has been requested. If you have given third party applications or websites access to your information, they may retain your information to the extent permitted under their terms of service or privacy policies. But they will no longer be able to access the information through our Platform after you disconnect from them.”

This is a biggie:

“Risks inherent in sharing information. Although we allow you to set privacy options that limit access to your information, please be aware that no security measures are perfect or impenetrable. We cannot control the actions of other users with whom you share your information. We cannot guarantee that only authorized persons will view your information. We cannot ensure that information you share on Facebook will not become publicly available. We are not responsible for third party circumvention of any privacy settings or security measures on Facebook. You can reduce these risks by using common sense security practices such as choosing a strong password, using different passwords for different services, and using up to date antivirus software.”

Translation:  We try to keep you and your information safe, but we are not making any promises, so use your head.

“Consent to Collection and Processing in the United States. By using Facebook, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States.”

Translation:  You use Facebook, we can share your information.

The major theme here is that Facebook shares your information by virtue of the fact that you are a member of Facebook.  Unless you specifically opt-out of something or alter your privacy settings to remove or block your information, you are “in the open” so to speak. Depending upon the reasons you are on Facebook, this may or may not be much of an issue.  For those of us who primarily use Facebook to talk about our business, help promote friends and clients,  and share some aspects of our personal life, the level of sharing is to our advantage.

If you are on Facebook in the hopes of keeping secrets, you are on the wrong platform.  Facebook brings home the reality that privacy is a myth. Every activity you participate in on Facebook leaves a hole somewhere for someone to peek through and see “something”.  Sometimes those holes are big enough for that someone to see a lot more then you thought.   I’ve seen Facebook break up a few relationships, get people fired or cause people not to be hired… among other things.

Most importantly (to me), I’ve seen Facebook bring brand awareness and success to many of my clients… so, it’s all in how you use it!

What are your thoughts on the updates?

Stay tuned for more.

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