Earlier this week, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) reached a settlement with millions of users who signed on to a class action suit that was filed against the company in 2011. The basis of the suit stemmed from users who “liked” a page or brand only to find pictures of theirs unwittingly used for advertising in Facebook’s “Sponsored Stories.” More from our earlier piece can be found here.
Facebook’s data use policy
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) in turn has reworded a number of sections in its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and Data Use Policy. While a number of these updates were mandated by the courts, a number of others are Facebook’s and will be reviewed internally over the next week.
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Make no mistake, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is not backtracking on its use of your photos and information in advertisements, it’s simply letting you know that this is exactly what it plans to do. If you think about how much time you spend reading “Terms of Service” and “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and Data Use Police” you might not notice the difference.
The only true difference is that you won’t be able to sue Facebook the next time it does what it does.
Erin Egan on the court settlement
“There is a court settlement dealing with Sponsored Stories. This settlement required us to provide additional language around the use of people’s information for Sponsored Stories,” Erin Egan, Facebook chief privacy officer, told CNET. “So we added an example to illustrate to people what we mean when we use their information as part of a Sponsored Story, and provided more detail around that.”
Their “we will take what we want, when we want it” legalese reads:
You give us permission to use your name, and profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you. If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, we will respect your choice when we use it.
If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to the terms of this section (and the use of your name, profile picture, content, and information) on your behalf.
Obviously, this will ruffle many feathers, but it essentially says, “we’re going to do it, but by all means feel free to close your account.” Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) can’t please 1.2 billion users simultaneously and will never please privacy advocates, so why not just say it?
“The goal, really, here is to make sure that we are as clear about our advertising practices as possible,” Egan said, while adding that other smaller changes are also being made.