With the new policy, an interactive walk-through, Privacy Basics, has been published to guide users on how to change their policy settings, which ultimately may make them feel more in control of their information on the platform. However, though arguably evident for sometime now, the new policy highlights the changing construct of user privacy.
Privacy from others, but not Facebook
Generally, and for many of the conversations on privacy in this digital age, there has been a sense that users want to be able to have some control over their data, even from the services that they might be accessing online or through their devices. However what became clear in the new policy was that Facebook fully expects to have access to your data, but will safeguard it from others.
In addition to users’ posts and browsing habits, it might be appropriate to be reminded of how much data users allow Facebook to access. For example, an devices running the Android Operating Systems Facebook is given permission to access information in over 40 areas, including
- add or modify calendar events and send email to guests without owners’ knowledge
- modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
- full network access
- change network connectivity (Source: Google Play).
Information will be shared across all of Facebook’s properties
Within the policy, Facebook was quick point out that it is no longer one solitary entity, but comprises a “family of companies, apps and services” that includes Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger, to name a few. Hence moving forward, Facebook intends to have its family of apps and companies work together, “to improve your experience”.
Also, in its policy, the firm provides an example that if a user is locked out of his/her Instagram account, he/she can use their Facebook log-in details to regain access. However, the following statement in the policy seems somewhat contradictory:
Nothing in our updates changes the commitments that Instagram, WhatsApp and other companies have made to protect your information and your privacy.
Privacy versus anonymity
Advertising still remains that lifeblood of many online platforms: Facebook is no exception. Hence the firm still intends to work with advertisers, by helping them “reach people with relevant ads without telling them who you are” (Source: Facebook).
While this statement might again seem contradictory, it appears to highlight that a distinction is being made between privacy and anonymity. While the user might remain anonymous, their information might not necessarily be private.
Facebook is evolving
Throughout the new policy, which is a short read, there is a sense that Facebook is evolving, and what the final product will be – at least to its users – might not yet be clear. However, in maintaining access to as much of its users’ information as possible, the firm might be ensuring that it has access to what could be important inputs for the future.
Image credit: Stuart Miles (freedigitalphotos.net)