Now, when members first access Facebook's privacy information policy, the words “you’re in charge” stand out on the page in a simple, blue font. Alongside this bold proclamation, Facebook tells users it wants to help them “learn about ways to protect their privacy” on the network, which reached 1.23 billion monthly active users in January this year.
Facebook needs to ensure its policies are clear to users, otherwise it could find itself in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission. "This is a continued effort," Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan told the Washington Post. "We want to provide information to people in a clear and concise manner."
Facebook offers users a number of privacy tools. They can choose to share posts, photos, location check-ins, important dates and statuses with everyone, their friends, just themselves or friends of friends.
It seems simple enough, but what many users don’t understand is how private information such as birthdays, sexual orientation, personal preferences and interests can easily be handed over to advertisers and third-party companies. And users are consenting to this type of activity simply by using the social media site. “Everything Facebook does is about data collection to please its advertisers,” Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy told International Business Times.
Facebook’s recent policy changes aren’t exactly concise, though the guidelines do eliminate some of the confusing legal terminology. The social media giant still admits to using personal information for “research” purposes, and it showed very little remorse earlier this year when it was caught engaging in a mood manipulation study.
“Users need to understand their privacy isn’t protected,” said Chester. Facebook officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Similar to other Facebook policy changes, these alterations are just a proposal. Members will have 30 days to share their opinions on the changes, which the company will then review.
Advocates such as Chester believe Facebook has little choice but to protect user information. “If people don’t think their privacy is protected on Facebook, it will lose its user base.”