Facebook in fine print – What you really agreed to - by Diana Perry

January 25, 2019 - Retail
Diana Perry,
Linear Retail Properties

Just yesterday someone asked me for a social media update and was particularly concerned with Facebook’s policy and privacy. Since I had never truly dug into the fine print of it all, I took it upon myself to read the 12-page privacy document that the majority of us scroll to the bottom of awaiting the agree button. Below is a summary of the latest Facebook policy summarized with what you really need to know and what you agreed to by default. 

If you browse the Facebook policy on their site, it’s actually not as daunting and boring as you might imagine. They’ve totally revamped it with fun colorful gifs and easy navigation to access what specifically about the policy you might be most interested in. The doc does however read like it was written by someone overseas with not the best English opposed to our Harvard genius, Zuck. It’s also more vague than you’d want it to be with words like “collect/process” information and “content” instead of directly referring to text, photos, video or messenger. Throughout the policy though, Facebook makes sure that you know they only do all the data collecting to ensure that you have the most personalized Facebook and Instagram experience. Let’s be honest though, they need the data to make more money in their adverting venture. 

First, the policy references “Facebook products” throughout, so know that this refers to Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus, they all share information, similar infrastructure and technology. The biggest point here is that Facebook collects tons of data on you. It may in fact, know you better than you know yourself. It has collected and analyzed each and every interaction you’ve made on the network: Who you communicate with most, your address book, call log and SMS history (if you choose to sync them from a device like your mobile). It not only knows data about you in particular, but collects info from and about your computer, phone, connected TV, laptop and tablet. They know your current location, where you live, the places you go, your nearby Wi-Fi points, have access to your GPS location, camera and photos, they even know your mouse movements. Start typing and delete? Yup, that is stored and analyzed too. 

Secondly, Facebook has a lot of partners, particularly advertisers. According to SproutSocial, they raised over $7 billion in advertising revenue in the first quarter alone of 2017. These partnerships run deep in that Facebook and its advertisers share information about you including your activities off the Facebook network like websites you visit and other purchases you make. Facebook also collects info including your credit and debit card number and your address. Another partner of theirs can be law enforcement in response to legal requests. They will use data to investigate suspicious activity or detect when someone needs help. Good to have Facebook always looking out for ya. 

Seen the #10yearchallenge happening across your social media networks? Seems like a fun thing to participate in, especially if you are looking as good now as you did back in 2009, but you may want to think twice before posting. It’s said that Facebook has created the challenge to assist them with their facial recognition tools which makes complete sense. The network can’t automatically distinguish when you post old photos to current time without the context, so this helps them identify you as you age and even project your face in years to come. (Note, this is not written in their policy document, it’s my assessment). Facial recognition is however, a technology that you have to turn on within Facebook, not something that comes as default, whew. 

In closing, Facebook writes in larger bold font that they will not, “and never will,” sell your data...they just share it with advertisers, developers, law enforcement, researchers and academics and it can be stored and processed in the U.S. or other countries. Note that the above is mostly all default but there are many options to customize your account in settings and restrict some usage of your data. So, are you IN or OUT? 

Fun Fact: Facebook is ironically headquartered at 1 Hacker Way in CA.

Diana Perry is VP - marketing and social media at Linear Retail Properties, Burlington, Mass. 

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