Facebook finally updates privacy policy, but little has changed

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is learning from previous privacy policy snafus by rolling out changes slowly and with lots of feedback.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is learning from previous privacy policy snafus by rolling out changes slowly and with lots of feedback.

Facebook changed its privacy policies on Friday, but unlike previous overhauls, there's not much to rage about this time.

No, companies aren't using your photos to sell products. Yes, if you like a brand, that information will show up in your friends' feeds, on your Timeline, and in Graph Search ("friends of my friends who like Anthropologie").

Facebook had to clarify how it uses your information to sell ads after settling a $20 million class-action lawsuit earlier this year. The network asked for user feedback on its policy language back in August, and on Friday the social network made those changes official.

"We proposed these changes because we thought we could improve the way we explain our policies," wrote Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy policy officer, in a Friday note posted to Facebook. "But your feedback was clear--we can do better--and it led to a number of clarifying edits."


Two major concerns users had were about how likes were used by companies to advertise on Facebook and how Facebook used your profile photo to suggest that friends tag photos of you. In the policy clarifications posted Friday, Egan said your privacy settings still apply to likes, so if your likes are visible just to friends, then even if a company pays to promote that you like them, only your friends will see it.

It's still a little creepy, but less creepy than the whole world seeing that you like One Direction. You can also safeguard against this but not liking every random page on Facebook that your friends suggest to you. Be a little more discriminating with your thumbs up, people.

Facebook also doesn't sell your photos to advertisers. Nip that rumor in the bud as a public service to your family members who have apparently never heard of Snopes.

The social network is, however, sticking by its use of facial recognition to improve the tag suggest feature it uses when your friends are tagging their photos.

"By using your profile picture for tag suggest, we can improve our ability to suggest that people tag you in a photo giving you a heads up that the photo has been posted and the ability to take action," Egan wrote. "Again, this is about increasing your control and awareness of information about you."

Two of the biggest changes Facebook has made to its privacy settings this year--removing the ability to hide your name from search and letting teenagers post publicly --are unaffected by this policy update.

As always, Facebook's policy changes are a reminder that you should check and tweak your privacy settings regularly.

Tags privacyinternetFacebooksocial networkingInternet-based applications and services

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