Facebook policy changes

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Since inception, Facebook has continuously and rapidly evolved. Due to the growth of its online community to more than a billion users and its transition to a publicly traded company, there is now a greater emphasis on reliability and accountability.

The most recent review on improving the Site Governance focuses on two key documents: the Data Use Policy, which describes how Facebook collects and uses data and the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SRR), which explains the terms of governing the use of Facebook’s services.

According to a Facebook publication on its Site Governance page, the proposed updates for the Data Use Policy will provide more detailed information regarding the company’s practices and reflect changes to its products.

Included in this update was an admission (of sorts) by Facebook that it collects and shares data regarding user activity with advertisers, albeit with complete anonymity.

Proposed changes in the SRR relate to how feedback is obtained from users for future updates with Facebook administrators indicating that the current feedback procedure is flawed. The voting system in place is triggered by a specific number of comments, which incentivises the quantity of comments over their quality making it inaccurate.

As a result, the Facebook team is looking at ways to encourage more meaningful feedback and engagement with users, adding two new means of responding to user comments and questions:

  1. Ask the Chief Privacy Officer – This new feature will allow users to submit questions about privacy directly to the Chief Privacy Officer of Policy Erin Egan.
  2. Facebook live events – Erin Egan will also hold webcasts on a regular basis to address user comments and questions regarding privacy, safety and security on Facebook.

These are just some of the proposed changes to Facebook’s policies. More information can be found on the Facebook Site Governance page, by clicking the following link: http://www.facebook.com/fbsitegovernance/app_4949752878.

In light of these changes, there has been significant backlash from the Facebook community. A dedicated website (www.our-policy.org) has been set up to outline the amendments the group would like to Facebook’s proposed changes. It has also urged users who are opposed to the changes to post on the Facebook Site Governance page.

Additionally, a recent article by Mathew Ingram on gigaon.com revealed a strong indication that Facebook is going to use the personal data it collects (user activity, browsing habits, likes and dislikes) to show users ads outside of Facebook.

The types of data that Facebook can and does collect regarding the behaviour of over a billion users holds a significant potential in online ad-targeting. Facebook has recognised this opportunity and now poses the first real threat to an area that has long been dominated by Google.

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