Well, the changes are here now, and they do have some serious effects. The new policy is now live, and again we’d challenge any average user to completely understand this, when faced solely with this updated Facebook Policy.
It is supposed to be written in plain English, made easily understandable – but again the average user will not read this completely, and most definitely will not understand the effects this may have from 1st February, when it was implemented.
You have, by logging into Facebook anytime from February 1st, automatically agreed to this amended policy.
Why has Facebook done this?
Well, if we are to believe Erin Eagan, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer, this new policy is designed to make information regarding Facebook and your Privacy clearer and more understandable. It actually is in some ways, but how many normal Facebook Users will take the time to read and digest the complete policy?
The long and the short of it is that most will continue to use Facebook, blissfully unaware of what is actually being shared about them. The lack of personal interest in our own online privacy is shocking, but it has come about gradually as we get used to signing away our rights when we install Apps on our tablets/phones, and as we share our most intimate details on the Facebook platform.
What has happened now?
The basics are – Facebook now has the right to share your personal information with partnered Sites and Apps, including:
- Browsing habits (even outside Facebook)
- Friends and family
- Devices you use
- Buying habits, etc
What this means is that they will share the information they hold about you across Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, etc with each other and anyone they ‘partner’ with – now and in the future.
This allows them to provide targeted advertising, aimed specifically at you, and designed to grab a piece of your online purchasing expenditure.
“Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA, and we built WhatsApp around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible… If partnering with Facebook meant that we had to change our values, we wouldn’t have done it.”
Jan Koum, Co-founder and CEO of WhatsApp
Oh how his tune has changed, now that Facebook have taken control. WhatsApp will be sharing your data the same as Facebook, and users will be milked to get every last drop of information gathered to allow them to present you with what they see as advertising that is specific to your needs.
You can see this immediately – go into Amazon or suchlike and search for something (for example a new printer or an iPad, etc). Once you have browsed around a while, go back into Facebook. Take a look at the advertisements on the right of your Facebook screen and, hey presto, they seem to be advertising the very product you were looking at a short time before.
Why should I be worried?
The vast majority of Facebook users will not worry, they will get on with showing the world pictures of tonight’s dinner, or their latest fish-like pout in front of the bathroom mirror, etc.
Remember, this new policy allows Facebook to track your internet use – even after you have left it. They will be monitoring all of your browsing habits, whether or not you are using Facebook at the time. This gives them a seriously powerful insight into each of their users, and makes them very inviting for any potential advertiser.
If you are someone who does not care about their private information being shared across the internet, then you have nothing to fear. If, however, you feel that your information is yours alone and should not be shared with everyone who ultimately wants to take your hard-earned money, then you need to take some steps.
We also take exception to the fact that the information Facebook provides to users seems to tell us less about how to stop this latest privacy invasion, than how to tailor it even further. It seems to put more focus on helping users to tailor the adverts they see specifically to their interests – making Facebook even more inviting for potential advertisers.
How can I put a stop to this?
You need to check through your basic Privacy Settings. Facebook has a plethora of information available about this, once you get in there.
Facebook have added a specific Settings Page for Adverts, where you can change the default ‘op-in’ in certain ways. This does not completely cover you, but it does allow you a measure of control.
You can also ensure your internet use is not tracked by signing up to the European Digital Advertising Alliance, which allows you to opt out of this tracking altogether. I bet the vast majority of you have never even heard of the EDAA? For those of you not in the UK, there are equivalents for you in the US, and there is a country-specific version of the EDAA’s page for you anywhere else in Europe.
You also have the option of deleting your Facebook Account, but we already know the vast majority of you are not going to do that.
We like the internet, we like to browse and shop on the internet….but WE like to decide what WE look at OURSELVES.
As Facebook develops, it will control more and more what we see (and ultimately DO) on the internet – if this is not George Orwell’s 1984 being finally implemented, I don’t know what is.