Facebook announces changes to its privacy policy

The social media giant is touting greater transparency and control for users over info they provide to third party apps as part of its new privacy policy improvements. The changes also include an outline of how its ad programs work, and a new permissions model that requires apps to obtain express consent from users - before any data is shared.

Following over a year-long review by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Facebook announced changes to its privacy policy this morning in response to recommendations made by the Commissioner – improvements and technical changes it says will provide users with greater transparency and control over info they provide to third-party apps.

Facebook has responded with commitments it plans to implement over the next 12 months, which include updating its privacy policy to better describe its practices, account memorialization for deceased users, the distinction between account deactivation and deletion, and how its advertising programs work.

In terms of increasing the understanding and control a user has over the information accessed by third-party applications, Facebook is introducing a new permissions model that will require applications to specify the categories of information they wish to access and obtain express consent from the user – before any data is shared. Users will also have to approve any access to their friends’ info, in turn subject to the friend’s privacy and application settings.

Though work on the planned changes will begin immediately, updates to the Privacy Policy will require a notice and comment period for users which may take some time.

Changes to how users share information with third-party apps is also expected to require time and resources, both for the updating and testing of the new Facebook API, and for third-party application developers to reprogram and test their applications, though no longer than a year.