Facebook Explains Data Policies

May 22, 2012

Ah, Facebook and its content treasure trove. The New York Times reports, “Facebook Shares More About How It Uses Your Data.” The social behemoth has added new explanations about its content and privacy policies to the site’s Help tab.

Writer Somini Sengupta infers that the new disclosures may be in response to questions from certain European college students and the Irish Data Protection Office (which regulates Facebook’s European data policies.) Perhaps, but it seems to us that the clamor for transparency from Facebook began long ago. More likely, the timing has something to do with Facebook’s comparatively new Director of Privacy, Erin Egan. Ms. Egan was previously a partner and co-chair of the global privacy and data security division at a respected international law firm based in Washington, DC.

The write up informs us:

“The new explanations, available by clicking on the Help tab on the bottom of the Facebook home page, include one on how cookies work on the site and what information application developers receive when you download an app on the Facebook platform. The explanations also inform users about who can see what kinds of posts on their timelines.”

“‘We also provide more information about how we use data to operate Facebook, to advertise, and to promote safety and security for Facebook users,’ Ms. Egan wrote.”

Could the timing of these explanations, and the creation of the Director of Privacy position itself, have anything to do with Facebook going public? The company must now balance the specter of public scrutiny with its obligation to plump up profits for shareholders. Good luck with that.

Cynthia Murrell, May 22, 2012

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