You should read them.
Last week, Facebook redesigned its settings page so it would be easier to find all of the information the company has collected about you.
This week, Facebook is trying to better explain how and why it collects that data, so it rewrote its terms of service and data policies to include more details about how Facebook operates. Facebook’s old Terms of Service were last updated more than three years ago.
The new policies are longer and include more details than the old versions. But here’s the key part from Facebook’s blog post on Wednesday: “We’re not asking for new rights to collect, use or share your data on Facebook. We’re also not changing any of the privacy choices you’ve made in the past.”
Translation: Facebook is changing how much it tells people, but is not changing how much it collects from people.
The new policies come just a few weeks after it was learned that Facebook’s old data policies enabled an outside research firm eventually hired by Donald Trump, Cambridge Analytica, to collect personal information on some 50 million Facebook users without their permission.
The new policies unveiled Wednesday are much more detailed than the old versions, and highlight a few areas that clearly should have been mentioned in prior versions.
Facebook’s old data policy, for example, didn’t mention Instagram at all. The new version mentions Instagram more than 30 times, including the fact that Facebook might use your Instagram activity (who you follow) to recommend stuff to you on Facebook (groups you should join).
The new data policy also mentions that Facebook can “collect contact information if you choose to upload, sync or import it (such as an address book or call log or SMS log history).” The old version doesn’t mention that, and Facebook took heat last week for collecting this info from some Android users even though they agreed to share it with Facebook.
The point is that Facebook says these new terms are more transparent and inclusive of all the stuff Facebook collects. “It’s important to show people in black and white how our products work — it’s one of the ways people can make informed decisions about their privacy,” Facebook wrote in its blog post.
Simply rewriting the terms won’t appease those that are concerned with how widespread Facebook’s data collection techniques have become. (Did you know Facebook can collect everything from your GPS location to your phone’s battery level?)
It’s likely Facebook will hear a lot about these concerns from members of Congress sometime this month. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been invited to testify before numerous Congressional committees, and the company is still working to finalize a time and place for him to appear. When that happens, Facebook will be able to point to these updated terms as a sign that it’s trying to come clean to consumers, but it might just be too little, too late.
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