Facebook proposes changes to terms of service to make data policy clearer

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Facebook has proposed a series of changes to its terms of service and data policy in an attempt to make them clearer, asking users to provide feedback on the potential updates.

The social network said the changes are designed to better show how it collects and uses data, and are not a request for new rights to data from users on the site.

The company has seen its business practices heavily scrutinised in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal.

In a blog post explaining the possible updates, Facebook’s chief privacy officer Erin Egan said the firm wanted to make its practices around data more transparent.

“It’s important to show people in black and white how our products work – it’s one of the ways people can make informed decisions about their privacy,” she said.

“So we’re proposing updates to our terms of service that include our commitments to everyone using Facebook.

“We explain the services we offer in language that’s easier to read. We’re also updating our data policy to better spell out what data we collect and how we use it in Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and other products.

“These updates are about making things clearer. We’re not asking for new rights to collect, use or share your data on Facebook. We’re also not changing any of the privacy choices you’ve made in the past.”

Among the proposed changes to its terms, Facebook said it will explain how it personalises the service for users – by using the connections, choices and settings users select on the platform.

The firm also clarifies its stance on sharing information with others.

“We will never sell your information to anyone. We have a responsibility to keep people’s information safe and secure, and we impose strict restrictions on how our partners can use and disclose data,” the blog post says.

Among the proposed changes is an updated data policy, which goes into greater detail about the information Facebook gathers from the devices used to access it.

It explains that the company obtains information including device attributes such as operating system and battery life, as well as mobile phone number and a number of other signals and device identifiers.

It also explains that using third-party apps that are linked with or integrated into Facebook will give those third parties access to what a user posts or shares on Facebook.

The social network said the new terms also explain how it shares information with the other companies it owns, including WhatsApp, Oculus, Messenger and Instagram, as well as update and more clearly explain how it combats abusive and suspicious activity on the site.

The firm said it would now give users time to provide feedback on its proposed changes before releasing the final documents.

“For the next seven days, you’ll be able to provide your feedback on the terms and data policy,” Facebook said.

“Once finalised, we’ll publish these documents and ask you to agree to them on Facebook, along with information about the choices you have over your privacy.”

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is due to appear before a US congressional committee on April 11, when he will be questioned on the company’s “use and protection of user data”.

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