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Facebook tells more about how it uses your digital life

May 11, 2012|By Michelle Maltais
  • Facebook clarifies its data-use policy, explaining who sees what when and how to tweak that.
Facebook clarifies its data-use policy, explaining who sees what when… (Facebook )

The latest in the flurry of pre-IPO activity is that Facebook is proposing changes to its privacy policy again, and you get to weigh in.

Much of what's detailed clarifies what you as a consumer should know is happening with your personal digital life. It includes who gets to see what you're up to; how you control who gets to that info; what details are out there and how long they keep that info around.

Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan writes in a post on Facebook, "We work on user privacy issues each and every day – it matters.  We listen closely to your advice and together we can make Facebook the community we want."

The data-use policy, previously called a privacy policy, now clearly states that your name, profile photos, any networks you belong to and gender are always public information with regard to Facebook.

And, just for your edification, changing photos doesn't remove them from the public arena. "Unless you delete them, when you add a new profile picture or cover photo, the previous photo will remain public in your profile picture or cover photo album," the policy reads.

Among other changes is the disclosure that Facebook will hang on to your data as long as it wishes.  Egan wrote in a blog post explaining the proposed changes, "we will retain data for as long as necessary to provide services to users and others. This broader commitment applies to all data we collect and receive about you, including information from advertisers."

The proposed revisions also address how long it keeps your location data: "When we get your GPS location, we put it together with other location information we have about you (like your current city). But we only keep it until it is no longer useful to provide you services, like keeping your last GPS coordinates to send you relevant notifications."

Other changes and clarifications in the policy include further detail about how apps and external sites access and use your Facebook information.

And did you know you have a voice when it comes to changes? According to the data-use policy, all it takes to get a vote is more than 7,000 comments on a change, excluding those made for legal or administrative reasons.

The policy states: "we will give you seven (7) days to provide us with comments on the change. If we receive more than 7000 comments concerning a particular change, we will put the change up for a vote. The vote will be binding on us if more than 30% of all active registered users as of the date of the notice vote."

The site is also consolidating all of its dense but important policies in a unified hub:

Users will have a chance to ask Facebook more about its policy changes on Monday during a video question-and-answer session at 9 a.m. Pacific Time.

The proposal is posted on the Site Governance Page. Be sure to read it. It really does affect you. 


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