Posted on / by GEO HITS

Why Facebook’s fight against data surveillance still falls short

Since Facebook is one of the most popular social media sites in the world, it’s important that its users’ information stays private. Facebook itself tracks your every move, partly to provide you with targeted ads.

However, there are plenty of other companies tracking you on Facebook as well. Some third-party apps are even being used for surveillance purposes. In response, the social media giant has changed its policies to try and stop this from happening.

Does Facebook’s policy change protect your privacy?

Like most people, I was happy to hear that Facebook was fighting back against data surveillance by updating its Terms & Conditions. But this change still leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to your own personal privacy. Here’s what nobody is telling you: Facebook’s policy update still leaves you vulnerable.

This policy is being changed after last year’s incident involving the social media surveillance tool Geofeedia. Law enforcement reportedly used the tool to access data from sites like Facebook and Instagram. Police allegedly used the data to monitor certain protesters.

Let’s look at part of Facebook’s statement on the policy change:

“We are committed to building a community where people can feel safe making their voices heard. Our approach involves making careful decisions every day about how we use and protect data at Facebook. We also adopt policies that limit how developers, advertisers, and others can use our platform.

“Over the years, we have learned the importance of updating these policies to offer more clarity or incorporate constructive feedback. These changes help us improve our community and discourage unwanted behavior.

“For example, we recently updated our Advertising Policies to ban ads that promote payday loans, and we prohibited companies from using Facebook data to make decisions about whether to approve or reject a loan application. Late last year, we updated our Advertising Policies to more explicitly prohibit various kinds of discriminatory advertising.

“Today we are adding language to our Facebook and Instagram platform policies to more clearly explain that developers cannot ‘use data obtained from us to provide tools that are used for surveillance.’ Our goal is to make our policy explicit.

“Over the past several months we have taken enforcement action against developers who created and marketed tools meant for surveillance, in violation of our existing policies; we want to be sure everyone understands the underlying policy and how to comply.”

Basically, this change just gives Facebook more protection to say that they don’t condone surveillance. Developers will still do what they want. You shouldn’t expect Facebook to police it 100 percent and hunt down developers that violate this policy.

That’s why it’s a bad idea to give permissions to third-party apps. This is when you receive a request to play a Facebook game your friends are obsessed with, and you decide to sign up. If you’ve ever done this before, then you’ve allowed that app developer to track you.

These third-party apps interact with your Facebook profile and can ask Facebook for permission to pull various personal data from your work history to timeline posts. And although you can edit what information they can access, very few people do.


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