Facebook Updates Privacy Policy in Plain English

Hand Holding SmartphoneIn response to user feedback around tracking and criticism about app permissions, Facebook has introduced a new plain English guide to privacy for its users, Privacy Basics.

Having already started using data from websites and apps outside of Facebook to tailor ads, the company has now created a how-to guide for users to opt out. People can block personalised ads across all their devices via the Digital Advertising Alliance opt out, the European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance opt out or the Digital Advertising Alliance of Canada opt out, along with using controls on iOS and Android.

Users in the US can now update their Facebook ad preferences, interests inferred by Facebook and accessible alongside every ad, if they do not reflect the types of ads they wish to see. This is coming to the rest of the world in the coming months, starting with Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and the UK.

In a bid to stave off criticism about the level of app permissions its services require, particularly following a backlash around Facebook Messenger, Facebooks chief privacy officer Erin Egan explains: “understanding battery and signal strength helps make sure our apps work well on your device. We ask for permission to use your phone’s location to offer optional features like check-ins or adding your location to posts.”

Along with making it more clear what data it collects and why, she says the company is also working on new location-based ad tools. “In the future, if you decide to share where you are, you might see menus from restaurants nearby,” she said.

Along with the Buy button, being trialled with a select number of small and medium-sized businesses in the US to let people make purchases without leaving the site, Egan says its also “working on new ways to make transactions even more convenient and secure”.

Egan joined Facebook in 2011 from law firm Covington & Burling to look after privacy policy at the social network.