Facebook’s Publishes Re-Imagined Privacy Policy for the Average User

Facebook has published an alternative, unofficial version of its privacy policy that is easier for the average user to understand. This “re-imagined” privacy policy uses simpler language, is more visual with graphics and screenshots, pools related information, includes links to interactive tools, and is layered for better browsing.

Nothing in the policy has changed, but it will help answer some common questions, reducing fear and leading users to share more comfortably. However, more could be done to directly confront rumors of data misuse.

Facebook is currently seeking feedback on the new format, and will “consider making it our official privacy policy” if feedback is positive.

Over the years, Facebook has had a tough time accomplishing its goal to “make the world more open and connected” while satisfying privacy critics. Giving users full control while minimizing interface complexity is a difficult task.

In April 2010, Facebook redesigned its privacy controls and pushed users through a privacy transition tool to make their interests public. Confusion and negative press led it to another redesign in May that prioritized simplicity, one-touch controls, and easy opt outs, allowing users to quickly protect all their data.

While privacy controls had improved, the document explaining Facebook’s policies was still “5830 words of legalese” as the site describes in today’s announcement. This meant if users had concerns but weren’t willing to wade through the privacy policy, they would assume the worse, propagating a perception that it was unsafe to share on Facebook. The re-imagined privacy policy will help alleviate this issue.

Re-Imagined Privacy Policy Walk-Through

The new version of the privacy policy is broken down into six sections plus some additional resources:

  • Your information and how it is used
  • Your information on Facebook
  • Your information on other websites and applications
  • How advertising works
  • Minors and Safety
  • Some other things you need to know

“Your information and how it is used” includes an explaination of what information Facebook receives from users, a clear description of the “Everyone” privacy option for publicly sharing data, what data is available through usernames and User IDs, and how Facebook uses the information it receives.

It describes how Facebook can receive information about users, such as their conversion habits, from its advertisers. It notes that it keeps “the data for 180 days. After that, we combine the data with other people’s data in a way that it is no longer associated with you.”

“Your information on Facebook” includes a guide to the current privacy control interface, an introduction to managing privacy on a per post basis, a description of what friends can share about you and how users can configure this, definitions of the “Friends”, “Friends of friends” and “Everyone” privacy buckets, and the distinction between deactivating and deleting one’s account.

Facebook notes that when a user deletes their account, “It typically takes about one month…but some information may remain in backup copies and logs for up to 90 days”.

“Your information on other websites and applications” defines the Facebook Platform, explains how to use the application and website privacy dashboard, outlines what data friends can share through applications and how to manage it, describes logging into Facebook on third-party websites and how they use social plugins, gives a full explanation of Instant Personalization, explains how all data shared on Facebook Pages is public, and describes how users can manage the public search engine listings of their profiles.

Facebook notes that “if you turn your public search setting off and then search for yourself on a public search engine, you may still see a preview of your profile. This is because some search engines cache information for a period of time.”

Recommended articles