Facebook is tweaking its Terms of Service for the first time in a decade.Image: JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty ImagesBy Karissa Bell2018-04-04 18:48:27 UTC
Facebook is developing a new privacy and data policy it wants you to agree to. And in a twist, it’s actively seeking your feedback about the changes.
The social network plans to update its terms of service agreement for the first time in more than three years, the company announced Wednesday. Facebook will also update its data policy in an effort to allay users’ privacy concerns. For the next week, users can submit feedback in the form of questions, suggestions, or comments via the company’s Help Center.
The new polices come just after Facebook announced that CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify on data privacy before the House Energy and Commerce Committee next week.
Though Zuckerberg is likely to tout the new policies during his appearance, don’t hold your breath for substantial changes to Facebook’s policies around data collection and other practices that have recently come under fire.
That’s because the updated Terms of Service is more about making Facebook’s opaque policies easier to understand, rather than changing its practices.
“These updates are about making things clearer,” Facebook said in a blog post about the update. “We’re not asking for new rights to collect, use, or share your data on Facebook. We’re also not changing any of the privacy choices you’ve made in the past.”
Instead, the new terms of service, which users will be required to agree to once they’re finalized, will outline information about the many new features Facebook has launched since its polices were last updated three years ago.
Likewise, the new data policy will more clearly explain how the company handles user data and what information is shared with third parties. For example, Facebook says it’s “added more specific information about the information we collect when you sync your contacts from some of our products,” in response to the outcry over tis Android app collecting call history and other data.
You can comment on the new terms for the next seven days, at which point you will be required to agree to the updated guidelines.
But the feedback form seems like little more than lip service. Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on whether it would make substantial changes based on user feedback, but the tiny form on its website hardly seems like the optimal place to deliver nuanced feedback on a data policy that’s more than 4,000 words long, according to Reuters.
Still, anything that makes Facebook’s policies easier to read and understand is a welcome improvement, even if it doesn’t actually change much about the company’s actions. As we’ve learned from the Cambridge Analytica mess, one of the biggest privacy issues is that for too long we’ve been content to ignore even the most problematic privacy policies.
Now, at least, we might have a little bit better idea of what we’re agreeing to.