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Facebook Tries to Get Ahead of Privacy Concerns Over Home

App doesn't do anything the social net doesn't already, it says

Facebook is trying to get ahead of the privacy debate over Facebook Home, the social network's new skin that turns Android phones into Facebook phones.

In a Q&A released Friday evening, Facebook tried to reassure critics that any privacy concerns about Home are much ado about nothing. "Home doesn't change anything related to your privacy settings on Facebook, and your privacy controls will work the same with Home as they do everywhere else on Facebook," the company said.

Within hours of Mark Zuckerberg's announcement, some, like GigaOM's Om Malik, speculated that Facebook would be able to collect even more information about Facebook users because it would now have easy access to what apps people use, what phone calls they make and who they converse with via Facebook "chat heads." 

But Facebook, which has already run afoul of the Federal Trade Commission for deceiving users about its privacy policy, seems to be taking no chances this time. Using a Q&A emailed to users, the social network said that Home will act just "like other parts of Facebook" and will not collect information about what users do in non-Facebook applications.

"Home will only see how you interact with Home itself," wrote Facebook privacy execs Michael Richter and Erin Egan.

Facebook did admit it would collect information about which apps show notifications to users "but not the content of the notification itself. We remove identifying information from this data after 90 days," Facebook said.

The company also reassured users that it would not be collecting any location data that is any different from the location data it already collects. "Just as with any other app, you can control the location permission in your phone's settings," Facebook said.

For skeptics, Facebook had other advice: "You can easily turn off Home in your Home settings."
 

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