One of the more common complaints to Facebook in relation to privacy is that their policies are difficult to understand unless you have technical knowledge related to privacy laws. Institutes dedicated to online privacy have especially been critical of this fact, and have been calling for years for changes that are aimed at users, and not lawyers.
Facebook has made attempts to change their policy before, claiming that they are simplified. But each time it was still complex and didn’t explain itself very well. The only major change was that it was somewhat more succinct than it had been before.
This time, they have actually made it simple in language and presentation, even creating an interactive page called Privacy Basics. It takes you through a step by step tutorial that explains each of the privacy functions of your account.
In addition to this, they have broken down the way they collect data from users, and how that data is used. One area somewhat glossed over is advertising, as they say that they just work with third parties to better target ads for the user, without telling those third parties who it is they are targeting. Which is more or less what was known before.
While those agencies that deal with privacy have praised Facebook for what they are calling “a step in the right direction”, they are still critical of one aspect in particular: the difficulty in opting out of advertising data altogether, for those who don’t want marketing agencies to use them for studies and so target those ads. They want a one step opt out process all across the board.
Facebook reps have fired back, saying that this is not logistically feasible, and that they can’t create the technical all-in-one button they are asking for. Which is fair enough; they probably could, but it would be more difficult than is logical, and wouldn’t operate the way it was hoped. Think of Google and their Right To Be Forgotten case, which has been a bit of a fiasco, and hasn’t worked the way people had hoped it would.
Either way, things are a bit more clear for users now. I would urge anyone on Facebook to take a peek at their new tutorial and policies.