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A Data Use Policy

Feb 28 2011 Published by under info sharing

Facebook’s “privacy policy,” criticized as being “5830 words of legalese,” is being re-imagined as a data use policy. True to form, privacy is a misnomer in describing the data use by Facebook. In an article called Facebook Proposes ‘Data Use’ Policy To Replace ‘Privacy Policy’, Thomas Claburn of Information Week notes that:

Complexity is not just a matter of words per page. It’s a matter of time to comprehension. And unfortunately, Facebook’s “Data Use Policy” remains irreducibly complex because Facebook and its platform developers employ user data in many different ways. The company admits that is has “tried not to change the substance of the policy…”

And therein lies Facebook’s problem: Neither its “Privacy Policy” nor its “Data Use Policy” includes an option for actual privacy, which is to say unidentified use.

The problem isn’t in the complexity of the policy as much as it’s in the variable and unpredicted uses that Facebook has over a user’s data. Claburn describes the tensions between using the site and applications found there, and personal information disclosure that’s required by Facebook. Since you are required to give accurate data about yourself, and your interactions on their site may paint new and interesting patterns about you, Facebook may think of new uses for your data. The bottom line, however: it’s still lipstick on a pig.

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