Facebook Introduces Privacy Basics, Updates Privacy Policy, Expands Advertising Controls

By David Cohen 

PrivacyBasics650Facebook Thursday announced a host of new features aimed at enabling its users to better understand the social network’s privacy settings, as well as to control the types of ads they see, and the company is also updating its privacy policy to provide more clarity on how it collects and uses location information.

Chief privacy officer Erin Egan introduced Facebook’s new Privacy Basics portal in a Newsroom post, describing it as follows:

Privacy Basics offers interactive guides to answer the most commonly asked questions about how you can control your information on Facebook. For example, you can learn about untagging, unfriending and blocking, and how to choose an audience for your posts. This information is available in 36 languages.

Privacy Basics is the latest step we’ve taken to help you make sure you’re sharing with exactly who you want, including our Privacy Checkup, reminder for people posting publicly and simplified audience selectors.

To make them more accessible, we moved tips and suggestions to Privacy Basics and also have resources about our policies for advertisers and developers. Our data policy is shorter and clearer, making it easier to read.

Egan wrote on the changes to the social network’s privacy policy:

We’re updating our policies to explain how we get location information depending on the features you decide to use. Millions of people check into their favorite places and use optional features like Nearby Friends. We’re working on ways to show you the most relevant information based on where you are and what your friends are up to. For example, in the future, if you decide to share where you are, you might see menus from restaurants nearby or updates from friends in the area.

For example, understanding battery and signal strength helps make sure our applications work well on your device. We ask for permission to use your phone’s location to offer optional features like check-ins or adding your location to posts.

You can review the proposed updates and provide comments until Nov. 20. We’ll share the final updates soon after that.

Egan also addressed the advertising controls being made available to users:

We’ve heard from some of you that it can be difficult to control the types of ads you see if you use multiple devices and browsers. In the past, if you opted out of certain kinds of advertising on your laptop, that choice may not have been applied for ads on your phone. We know that many people use more than one phone, tablet or browser to access Facebook, so it should be easy for you to make a single choice that applies across all of your devices.

That’s why Facebook respects the choices you make about the ads you see, across every device. You can opt out of seeing ads on Facebook based on the apps and sites you use through the Digital Advertising Alliance. You can also opt out using controls on iOS and Android. When you tell us you don’t want to see these types of ads, your decision automatically applies to every device you use to access Facebook. Also, we’re now making our ad preferences tool available in additional countries, beginning with Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and the U.K.


More details on Facebook’s advertising tools were made available in a Facebook for Business post:

One of the things people tell us is that they want the ads they see on Facebook to be more relevant. In the U.S., we learn about people’s interests based on the things they do on Facebook, including pages they like and interests they have expressed. We also take into account interests based on the websites people visit and the apps they use. In the coming months, we’ll use this same type of information to improve ads around the world. Advertisers won’t need to take any actions when creating ads or campaigns to take advantage of these enhancements.

All of our products are built in a privacy-protective way. We don’t share information with advertisers that tells them who a person is. We also offer ways for people to opt out if they don’t want to see ads based on the apps and sites they use. People can opt out through the Digital Advertising Alliance; they can also opt out using device controls on iOS and Android.

Accessible from every ad on Facebook, ad preferences explains to people why they’re seeing a specific ad and lets them control which interests influence the ads they see. Ad preferences allows people on Facebook to tell us the things they are and aren’t interested in, which means advertisers are more accurately reaching people most interested in their ads.

And Egan offered updates on other features Facebook has announced in the past:

In some regions, we’re testing a buy button that helps people discover and purchase products without leaving Facebook. We’re also working on new ways to make transactions even more convenient and secure.

Over the past few years, Facebook has grown, and we want to make sure you know about our family of companies, apps and services. We use the information we collect to improve your experience. For example, if you’re locked out of your Instagram account, you can use your Facebook information to recover your password. Nothing in our updates changes the commitments that Instagram, WhatsApp and other companies have made to protect your information and your privacy.

Readers: What are your thoughts on Facebook’s slew of privacy- and advertising-related announcements Thursday?