Facebook Launches Ask Our CPO; Erin Egan Answers Users’ Privacy-Related Questions

By David Cohen 

Facebook users with questions for Chief Privacy Officer of Policy Erin Egan now have a forum for those questions, as the social network announced on its Facebook and Privacy page Sunday that it launched its Ask Our CPO series, in which Egan responds to users’ privacy-related queries.

In the initial installment, Egan responded to questions about how Facebook thinks about privacy when building its products, how she personally uses the social network’s privacy settings, and whether users’ private information is sold to advertisers.

She also reminded users that questions specific to their accounts should be directed to Facebook’s help center and will not be addressed in the Ask Our CPO forum.

Egan wrote in the introduction to the first installment of Ask Our CPO:

As Facebook’s chief privacy officer of policy, I’m responsible for working with our teams at Facebook to be sure that we build our products with your privacy in mind. We also work hard to communicate with you — through our data use policy, our help center, and in our products — about how we use your information and how you can control this use.

To help continue this conversation, we created this Ask Our CPO feature, which will enable you to send us your questions, concerns, and feedback about privacy — and give us the opportunity to share with you how we think about privacy. We hope this feature will serve as a regular forum where we can have a direct conversation about privacy.

Go to the Ask Our CPO application to send me questions for our next note. I’ll answer some of the questions we receive in each note. For instance, we recently launched graph search. As you learn more about this feature, we hope you will use this forum as a place to ask us any questions you may have. In the meantime, I wanted to use this as an opportunity to respond to some privacy questions I get asked on a regular basis.

And here is a sample of the type of content that will appear in Ask Our CPO, in the form of Egan’s answer to the question, “How does Facebook think about privacy when building its products?”:

We think about and work on privacy around the clock here at Facebook, and we incorporate it into every stage of our product development. At Facebook, we have two chief privacy officers — I focus on policy, and my colleague, Michael Richter, focuses on product. But everyone at Facebook is responsible for privacy, and we work closely with teams across the company to analyze the privacy implications of every product we build from the start of product development through launch.

We’ve built a comprehensive privacy program that helps us take a systematic approach to privacy. For example, each week, a cross-functional team of senior representatives from teams across the company (including product, engineering, policy, legal, and marketing) meets to review our products while they are in development and before they launch, and to manage our overall practices around privacy. We also have a team of privacy product managers who work with product teams — and with professionals from our legal and policy groups — to think about our products from a privacy perspective at the very start. We also provide privacy trainings to our employees and consult with independent privacy experts and consumer advocates to be sure that we can share the best thinking about privacy with the people who build Facebook.

Readers: Do you believe Ask Our CPO will prove to be a useful tool for Facebook users?