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Facebook Shortens Its Data Policy: 5 Things Users Should Know

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By Admin on November 17, 2014 2:45 PM

Facebook has carved down its dense Data Policy in an attempt to clarify to users how their data is handled (or sold).

According to Forbes, the social networking company is proposing to trim its Data Policy from 9,000 words to a mere 2,700. Some may see this as a move to clear away "legalese" and leave only the straight talk, but is there more going on here?

Here are five things users should take away from Facebook's skinnier Data Policy:

1. Facebook Has a Chief Privacy Officer.

Yep. You may not think of Chief Privacy Officer as a title at most companies, but then again Facebook isn't most businesses. Erin Egan occupies this rare title and told the The Wall Street Journal that the Data Policy changes were aimed at making average users understand Facebook's terms of use. "Our goal is to make the information about Facebook as clear as possible," Egan said.

2. Maybe They Need One.

Facebook reached a settlement in a class-action lawsuit over its misleading data policy in 2012, and it hasn't exactly been straightforward with the public about its data collection since then. Take, for example, the recent FTC complaint over Facebook's use of its users as guinea pigs in an emotion study.

3. You Still Don't Own Your Facebook Posts.

Even under the amended policy, you don't "own" your Facebook posts. Users still give Facebook a nearly unlimited license to use their photos and videos. The license is revoked when you delete your posts, but remember, you're mostly offering information to Facebook (and by extension third parties) for free.

4. The New Policy Is Q&A-Based.

While the old policy looked very much like an online contract, Facebook's updated Data Policy is much more user-friendly, with smooth graphics and categories based on frequently asked questions.

5. However, Shorter Doesn't Mean More Common Sense.

Writing for Forbes, Amit Chowdhry quipped that Facebook's original policy was 9,000 words, while the U.S. Constitution is only 4,543 words. But keep in mind that the U.S. Constitution has some very short passages that define fundamental rights, the ambiguity of which has been the subject of decades of court cases. Whole lifetimes have been spent on one or two sentences in the Constitution, so we're OK with Facebook taking some verbiage to explain its policy.

Users will have until Thursday to comment on the new policy before it becomes effective, but it would be a miracle if most of them even read it.

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