Facebook is spelling out in plain english how it collects and uses your data in rewritten versions of its Terms Of Service and Data Use Policy, though it’s not asking for new rights to collect and use your data or changing any of your old privacy settings.The public has seven days to comment on the changes before Facebook will ask all users to consent to the first set of new rules in three years.
Unfortunately since the changes to the language and structure of the terms are so wide-reaching, it’s difficult to do a direct comparison of the differences.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the expanded, plain language terms are the specifics of how Facebook collects data from your devices. Conspiracy theories about it snooping on people through its microphone, and confusion about it collecting SMS and call log history likely pushed Facebook to give people details about what data its slurping up.
Facebook now explains that:
Information we obtain from these devices includes:
• Device attributes: information such as the operating system, hardware and software versions, battery level, signal strength, available storage space, browser type, app and file names and types, and plugins.
• Device operations: information about operations and behaviors performed on the device, such as whether a window is foregrounded or backgrounded, or mouse movements (which can help distinguish humans from bots).
• Identifiers: unique identifiers, device IDs, and other identifiers, such as from games, apps or accounts you use, and Family Device IDs (or other identifiers unique to associated with the same device or account).
• Device signals: Bluetooth signals, and information about nearby Wi-Fi access points, beacons, and cell towers. • Data from device settings: information you allow us to receive through device settings you turn on, such as access to your GPS location, camera or photos.
• Network and connections: information such as the name of your mobile operator or ISP, language, time zone, mobile phone number, IP address, connection speed and, in some cases, information about other devices that are nearby or on your network, so we can do things like help you stream a video from your phone to your TV.
Facebook has also clarified how new products it’s launched since the last TOS update like Marketplace, fundraisers, Live, 360, and camera effects work. It explains how every user’s experience is personalized. Facebook also makes it clear that it, WhatsApp, and Oculus (as well as Instagram) are all part of one company.
If Facebook can give users a better understanding of how it works, it might be able to diffuse privacy scandals and backlashes before they happen.