Meta updates its privacy policy and adjusts Facebook Audience Controls

As it occasionally does, the company formerly known as Facebook has made a new revision to its Terms of Service and updated its privacy policy. The old Facebook data policy is now Meta’s privacy policy, rewritten “to make it easier to understand and display the latest products we offer.”

With this revision, “Meta does not collect, use, or share your information in new ways based on this policy update, and we still do not sell your information,” the company said. Instead, this update tweaks the language and adds examples to help people understand what each segment is about.

After reading through the new policy and comparing it to the old one, it seems to hold up, for better or for worse. John Davisson, the senior advisor to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said in response to: The edge The promise that these policies won’t share data in new ways sounds good, but “the problem is that Facebook is already siphoning user data on an industrial scale into a massive targeted ad ecosystem. So the status quo is not good for privacy.”

Meta has in recent years (e.g. in 2014 and 2018) come closer to making its policies simpler and more readable on more than one occasion, and this layout may do the best job yet, but as much as it helps people understand what they’re doing agree – it can help Meta more. Adding examples helps avoid the kinds of misunderstandings and misinterpretation of rules, such as the incident with Instagram’s terms of service update in 2012, when people thought the service would suddenly start selling everyone’s photos.

Facebook’s current data policy
Image: Facebook

Making the point that “Even the clearest privacy policies are no substitute for enforceable privacy rights or legal restrictions on data processing,” Davisson simply called it “unrealistic” to think Facebook users can understand what they’re agreeing to in a 9,000-word agreement including dozens of nested menus for different settings and scenarios.

The new policy applies to Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and other Meta products, but not to WhatsApp, Workplace, Messenger Kids or Quest devices used without a Facebook account (which have their own privacy policies). Information about the policy for non-users who may have concerns that their information has been collected in “shadow profiles” is listed here.

Meta also introduces new Audience Controls on Facebook that change who sees the posts you post. The tool used to default to the audience setting you had most recently used, whether that was Public, Friends (+ friends of someone tagged), Only I was, or a custom selection of people you messaged would show or what you would hide it for. Now whatever your default selection is in your settings will initially be there for every new post you create, even if you used something different on your previous one.

Notifications Facebook users will see about the new Terms of Service before they go into effect on July 26
Image: Meta
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