As IPO looms, Facebook changes privacy policy again

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Facebook's updating its data use policy yet again, in an attempt to satisfy the Irish data protection authority - and potential shareholders.

The new policy looks similar to the old, but goes into much more detail about how the company uses the data it gathers. This was ordered by both the Irish Data Protection Commissioner and the US Federal Trade Commission.

"We’re adding more examples and detailed explanations to help you understand our policies. For example, we include additional tips, marked with a light bulb so you can find them easily. We’ve added new links to our Help Center," says Erin Egan, chief privacy officer, policy, at Facebook.

"We created a new section explaining how we use cookies and similar technologies and updated the corresponding explanations about cookies in our Help Center. We also provide more information about how we use data to operate Facebook, to advertise, and to promote safety and security for Facebook users."

The policy's also been updated to cover newly-introduced features such as Activity Log, a privacy tool that lets users see in one place the information they’ve posted to Facebook.

The company's being extremely humble about the changes, and is asking for feedback, here.

It looks likely, though, that the move is not entirely unrelated to the company's forthcoming IPO. As a public company, its profitability will be crucial, and it's likely that Facebook will seek to monetize more of the data it holds.

The new, more detailed privacy policy makes a couple of references that may be relevant here, for instance explaining that user data may be used for 'delivering relevant ads to you', including outside of Facebook.

And data which used to be deleted after 180 days will now be kept as long as it's relevant to providing a service - indefinitely, in other words.