Facebook Doesn’t Have A Privacy Policy

I'm not asking you to respect my privacy, I'm asking you to not allow me to use your data.

Don’t believe me?  Head over to where their Privacy Policy used to live and you’ll see that there isn’t a Facebook Privacy Policy anymore.  Instead, it’s a Data Use Policy.

That’s interesting.

To be fair, they changed the name back in September according to their blog post about the latest changes.  But that may have been lost amongst the buzz that Facebook was getting ready to settle with the FTC over alleged privacy violations.  In the latest rounds of revisions to their terms, Facebook is now striking all the instances where they called it their Privacy Policy.  Now it will only be referred to as the Data Use Policy.

Privacy, at least on Facebook, is dead.  Long live Data Use!

Sure, the meat of the policy is still there, but changing the name is an intriguing switch.  Is it Facebook’s efforts to subtly move the ball away from the dreaded P-word?  Facebook, as we all know, takes Privacy so seriously that when they settled with the FTC they appointed not one but two Chief Privacy Officers.  So while most large organizations have one Chief Privacy Officer and one Privacy Policy, Facebook’s going the other direction and both ways.

Zuckerberg’s stance on privacy has been well documented, such as the video of him saying privacy is no longer a social norm.  What better way of making that happen than to actually change the way people talk about the subject?  We aren’t talking about keeping your information private, we’re just talking about what data can be used by the platform.  It’s almost akin to casinos making you play with chips–they’re just colorful circles of fired clay, not real money.

I’m mostly poking fun, but it is a serious issue.  I think calling it a Data Use Policy is trying to sidestep the serious topic.  Facebook has done an excellent job burying the lead–they changed the title while still referring to it as a privacy policy, now they’ll just fix all those typos.  And a year from now they don’t even have to mention that word that their CEO doesn’t believe in.

All this came from the latest round of changes Facebook has proposed to their terms.  You can see the modifications yourself in this tracked changes PDF.  Facebook has an official blog post about some of the changes, including fixing all those references to that old named policy.  But if you’re curious, here are some of the other changes I found interesting:

  • 3.7. Previous terms banned content that was hateful, now the prohibition is on posts that are hate speech.  That will likely bring it in line with laws that cover the topic and take some of the problem of Facebook applying inconsistent methodologies.  We’ll see how they actually enforce this rule on content that is hate speech in one country but not another.
  • 3.11. They have added a prohibition to modifying the appearance of Facebook pages.  You know what shows up in Facebook pages that people like to remove?  Ads.  Yeah, now the ad blockers are violating Facebook’s terms.
  • 5.6. Have added “Book” to the list of trademarks that you will not use in a way that could confuse someone.  So you should start reading more graphic novels, just to be safe.
  • 6.3. Remember some of the complaints that if you added your phone number to Facebook then the mobile app might have synched it to all those other apps or given it to your friends?  Well, now you’re providing consent to all those apps.  Not sure why you were putting that number on Facebook to begin with if that wasn’t the case.
  • 10. Added “commercial content” to ads as paid materials.  Paving the way for paid-for posts and news items from companies which we all knew were coming with the IPO.

There are other changes, but they are similarly minor.  I find the overall theme of moving the discussion away from Privacy the most interesting part of these changes, but whether Facebook will successfully re-frame this issue is something we’ll see over time.

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Filed under Consumer Protection, CopyFUD, Copyright, Facebook, Identity, Privacy, Social Content, Social Marketing, Social Measurement, Social Platforms, Social Tracking, Terms and Conditions

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