Facebook Privacy rules changing: data collection, use, personalized ads

The Chief Privacy Officer of Policy for Facebook Erin Egan has this week begun setting down a series of changes to several of the key Facebook Governing Documents, with emphasis placed on their Data Use Policy and their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. For the average Facebook user, this means you'll be seeing Facebook make public edits to documents stating their intentions with collecting and using data you provide. It also means Facebook is editing the rules that apply to both you and Facebook when you choose to use the social network.

This set of rule changes comes soon after a Facebook Sponsored Stories privacy settlement was made and approved by a judge stemming from a case raised back in 2011. A judge has made the final OK for a settlement of $20 million to be paid to the five plaintiffs involved in the case.

According to the update summarization from Facebook presented today, they've rewritten the Personalized Ads section of their advertisement "About" section to reflect several needs that've come up recently.

We rewrote this section to:

• highlight how we use the information we receive to show you ads that we hope you find relevant and interesting.

• expand the explanation of the controls we give you over the ads you see on our ad page at www.facebook.com/about/ads.

• explain that advertisers may also be able to reach you on Facebook using the information they already have about you (such as email addresses or whether you have visited their websites previously).

Facebook is also making it more clear that you have a choice to use the social network, and that by using Facebook, you agree to several things. One of these things is the idea that "by using our services", Facebook representatives emphasize, "you grand us permission to use the information we receive to operate Facebook." This is just about as general as it gets when it comes to explaining how an interactive website works.

Another bit of emphasis has been added to the line that suggests "public information" may be accessed by anyone – "on or off Facebook". Facebook also has a section now that suggests they'll be using your profile pictures specifically – not just previously tagged photos – to identify you for possible tagging in future photos. According to AllThingsD, Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan said in an interview about the subject:

"It's actually a good thing to be tagged in more photos, because that's how you'll know they exist on Facebook. Then from there, you can take the photos down or, if you need to, report them." – Egan for Facebook

Have a peek at the full rule change summary and see what you think of the whole situation. It should be noted that these rules can – and are encouraged to – be commented on, but there will be no user vote on their final form. This is a Facebook-heads sort of set of decisions.