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May 14, 2012

Facebook's Private Data Use Policy for Dummies

By Julie Griffin, Contributing Writer

Egan stated that the announcement is not because there are drastic changes made to the existing policy. Despite the misleading announcements that suggested great changes were to be made, the Data Use Policy today states that the last revisions were made September 23, 2011. The fact that there are no revisions to the existing document shows that Facebook’s (News - Alert) intentions might have been solely as they claimed them to be, a revision of the policy that is presented as a user's guide.

The Associated Press suggests that Facebook’s announcement to their elucidate their private data use policy relates to their upcoming IPO. Facebook’s overseas headquarters are in Dublin, which is under the governance of the European Union. The company must comply with European laws regarding data use and privacy. Irish data-protection authorities audited Facebook last year requesting that they make certain changes, and Facebook has decided to officiate their compliance a week before their scheduled IPO. All changes that were made beforehand, such as the timeline format and activity log were made in September.

As detailed as the existing Data Use Policy is, there are no changes that jump out. Facebook’s Newsroom released an article over, Enhancing Transparency in our Data Use Policy. In the article, Erin Eagen explains the situation involving the Irish Data Protection Commissioner’s Office, and states that the officials have concluded that Facebook has a positive approach and commitment to respecting the privacy rights of Facebook users.

The article continued, “Today, we’re proposing improvements that respond to this feedback. We’re adding more examples and detailed explanations to help you understand our policies. For example, we include additional tips, marked with a light bulb so you can find them easily. We’ve added new links to our Help Center. We created a new section explaining how we use cookies and similar technologies and updated the corresponding explanations about cookies in our Help Center. We also provide more information about how we use data to operate Facebook, to advertise, and to promote safety and security for Facebook users. These examples and explanations are designed to help you understand what the Data Use Policy means in practice.”

Some analysts claim that it’s worth your time to read the document in its entirety because it’s interesting and often entertaining. Unlike policy-related documents that other companies offer their users, Facebook’s isn’t clouded by legal jargon. Because of this, analysts advise people to use it as a sort of user’s guide that can be applicable to other areas where private data use should be examined. 

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli
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