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Facebook has a bad habit of slipping into seedy territory whenever they make policy changes. The lawyers flip around a few words, privacy groups become outraged, and it turns into a whole song and dance.
This time, however, Facebook didn’t just tweak their settings to meet their needs, they pulled a complete 180 on them. Now they’re backpedaling with a little help from activist groups and the Federal Trade Commission.
NBC News reported that Facebook has pushed back their new user policy implementation until next week at the earliest. This news is actually in response to the fact that they never did the big policy reveal yesterday. Facebook had initially planned to launch their new policies on September 5, but decided against it after activist groups petitioned the changes.
According to the letter sent to the FTC, the updated guidelines would, “allow Facebook to routinely use the images and names of Facebook users for commercial advertising without consent.”
Facebook using and abusing images use is old news to the FTC. It ordered Facebook to stop that practice in 2011 and cease all sharing of nonpublic information with third parties without user consent.
The writers of the FTC letter say that it takes “Alice in Wonderland” logic to justify the updates that Facebook has made to their settings.
For the most part, the activist groups are trying to protect minors. While you technically have to be thirteen to sign-up for Facebook, it’s common knowledge that an age-gate won’t stop a kid who can do basic math.
According to the letter, the new policy reads:
If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to the terms of this section (and the use of your name, profile picture, content, and information) on your behalf.
Basically, this means that if a child is 13 and he or she creates a Facebook account without their parents knowing, then Facebook is still able to have access to all of their information. Despite the fact that the parents don’t know, they have still given their permission because their child clicked a box that agrees to Terms and Conditions.
For adults, the major key difference was the substitution of the phrase, “subject to the limits you place,” with “without any compensation to you.” In the old update, users could place limits on what content and information Facebook had access to, and with the new settings they have no choice.
These changes aren’t something trivial like the implementation of timeline or adding the ticker on the side. This is personal information that we’re dealing with, and Facebook has chosen a bad time to make users lose all faith in their privacy tactics.