Facebook's New Privacy Policy: An Attempt At Greater Transparency

Privacy IconDespite having one of the most powerful communications teams in Silicon Valley, Facebook has made plenty of stumbles along the way. However the company’s new effort is to increase the readability of its privacy policy for the average user, hopefully curing one of their most recent mistakes. Rather than innumerable pages of legalese, the company is looking to make its stance “easy to understand”.

At first glance this is definitely a step in the right direction. The company is looking to make the privacy legible for the average user, but let’s be honest: who reads privacy policies anyways? The true answer is bloggers and others in the media who are looking for a scoop “uncovering the shocking truth” behind Facebook’s latest changes. It provides a compelling headline and most often riles up others who jump on the story, recognizing that millions of users are just waiting to read why Facebook is misleading us.

If Facebook genuinely wanted transparency with users, why on earth would they simply announce the new changes in the “Facebook Site Governance” notes area? I often want to believe that Facebook, the entity, has the best intentions in the world, however it seems so odd to bury the story in a place where people can’t see it. Rather than sharing it with the masses on their blog, where 15,000 people tend to like each story, they shared it on a substantially less popular page where only 236 people happened to like the story.

I understand: most users don’t care about all the privacy settings and Facebook’s official stance on things. But why not take transparency to a higher level and present the new approach to all users? It’s about principle. To be fair, there’s always some way to be critical of any organization’s level of transparency, however if we aren’t the ones who demand it, who will?