Facebook’s New Privacy Policy: What You Need To Know

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On Jan. 1, Facebook debuted a new privacy policy for their 1.35 billion monthly active users.

In 2012, the Atlantic found that most privacy policies came in at just over 2,500 words, which takes the average person about 10 minutes to read. Accordingly, you may not have read Facebook's original privacy policy, as it contained more than 9,000 words. But the social media giant's new policy has slimmed down quite a bit to just 2,700 words.

In our social media-connected universe, it's important to know how the information you're sharing is being collected and used. This year, make a resolution to stay informed. Take ten minutes out of your day to read Facebook's privacy policy. It's colorful. It's interactive. It's important.

Of course, we have the highlights for you:

  • The online document, called "Privacy Basics," is separated into three sections: "What Others See About You," "How Others Interact With You," and "What You See." It tackles topics like untagging, unfriending, blocking, and what to do if your Facebook account has been hacked. It also explains what kind of information Facebook collects, how it is shared, and how users can manage their information.
  • The new policy does not affect or change your Facebook settings in any way.
  • Nor does it change how much data Facebook collects from users.
  • The new policy does not affect Facebook's other popular apps, like Instagram and WhatsApp.
  • Not surprisingly, Facebook wants to know where you are. Facebook writes, "We ask for permission to use your phone's location when we offer optional features like check-ins or adding your location to posts … We're working on ways to show you the most relevant information based on where you are and what your friends are up to. For example, in the future, if you decide to share where you are, you might see menus from restaurants nearby or updates from friends in the area."
  • Your phone's geotagging, Bluetooth, and WiFi can all share your location with Facebook. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of geotagging, here is a video that you may find helpful.
  • Facebook allows advertisers to target ads based on users' locations.
  • Facebook wants to know about your device. They write, "Understanding battery and signal strength helps make sure our apps work well on your device. "
  • Facebook wants to gather your connection information, including "the name of your mobile operator or ISP, browser type, language and time zone, mobile phone number and IP address."
  • On the topic of payments on the platform, Facebook wrote, "If you use our Services for purchases or financial transactions (like when you buy something on Facebook, make a purchase in a game, or make a donation), we collect information about the purchase or transaction. This includes your payment information, such as your credit or debit card number and other card information, and other account and authentication information, as well as billing, shipping and contact details."
  • In some regions, Facebook is testing a "Buy" button that will allow users to make purchases without leaving Facebook. The social network wrote they are working on "new ways to make transactions even more convenient."
  • Facebook also says, "if [users] opted out of certain kinds of advertising on your laptop, that choice may not have been applied for ads on [their] phone … That's why Facebook respects the choices you make about the ads you see, across every device. You can opt out of seeing ads on Facebook based on the apps and sites you use through the Digital Advertising Alliance. You can also opt out using controls on iOS and Android. When you tell us you don't want to see these types of ads, your decision automatically applies to every device you use to access Facebook."

To read the entire Privacy Basics document, we encourage you to visit:https://www.facebook.com/about/basics

Facebook is not unique from other platforms, websites, and apps in wanting to collect a vast amount of user data. These details are used to help keep the social networking site tailored to users' changing needs. Advertisers who are interested in targeting specific audiences and demographics also treasure this data.

Our beloved "free" platform for sharing daily news, successes, frustrations—and even selfies—comes with a price. By using Facebook, you implicitly agree to the platform's privacy terms; as a user, it is important to understand how the app collects and uses your data.

If you're interested in learning how to better secure your privacy settings on Facebook, as well as other social media accounts, check out our article, How To Manage Your Social Media Privacy Settings.

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