• March 23, 2023

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Facebook owner Meta has started sending out alerts about changes to its privacy policy from July. So, what’s changed and should you be concerned?

The answer to the first question is not much; the second is more complicated. Facebook is a data-hungry ad giant that collects vast amounts of your data. The social network has been under huge pressure for the last few months after regulator scrutiny and whistleblower allegations. Throw the Apple privacy changes into the mix—which could cost Facebook $12 billion—and it’s a perfect storm for the Mark Zuckerberg-owned social network.

In a blog announcing the changes to its privacy policy, Facebook says nothing has changed. Instead, the social media company will now include more information about the data it collects and who it is shared with. This is a good thing, as Facebook has been less than transparent about where data goes. In fact, according to a document leaked last month, Facebook has no idea what it does with your data (something the social network denies).

Announcing Facebook’s updated privacy policy and terms of service, Michel Protti, chief privacy officer, product explained how while the text looks different, the updates “don’t allow Meta to collect, use or share your data in new ways.”

“At Meta, we’ve always set out to build personalized experiences that provide value without compromising your privacy. So, it’s on us to have strong protections for the data we use and be transparent about how we use it. That includes communicating more clearly about our data practices and the choices you have.”


The Facebook privacy update—which impacts Facebook, Instagram and Facebook Messenger but not WhatsApp—also adds more control over the audience who sees your posts. Meanwhile, Facebook has added a single control to help you set your preferences across ad topics.

Who are the Facebook changes really for?

It comes at a time when Facebook is under huge regulatory scrutiny, which recently saw it release information detailing how political ads target users. The update to its privacy policy is part of this—an attempt to appease regulators with more transparency into its practices.

So much so that Stephanie Hare, author of Technology Is Not Neutral: A Short Guide to Technology Ethics told the BBC the move was Facebook owner Meta “moving to technology realpolitik.”

“Their bet is that most users have accepted this bargain—they have priced in a privacy trade-off for social connection, convenience, fun and business—so this announcement functions to neutralise criticism about surveillance capitalism.”

This shifts accountability “on to users and the regulators – ‘users, it is your choice to participate in this transaction,” she told the BBC. “And regulators, the ball is in your court to enforce the laws in your jurisdiction.”

The delete Facebook movement continues to gain pace

The delete Facebook movement is continuing to gain pace. Amid a lot of bad publicity, lots of people are realizing that the social network collects a huge amount of data, and tracks you way more than is comfortable.

If you are not ready to delete the social network, I offer a few recommendations on how to protect your privacy and limit your Facebook use. If you have an iPhone, you can use App Tracking Transparency to stop Facebook from tracking you across other apps and websites. Even better, you could delete the app from your phone to limit the data Facebook can collect, and use it instead only on your computer browser.


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