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What Facebook’s Privacy Policies Don’t Tell You

Gizmodo – Shoshana Wodinsky: “Folks, I’m gonna be honest with you. Over my (short) tenure covering digital privacy, I’ve seen my fair share of deeply shitty tech companies pulling deeply shitty stunts in attempts to profit off our personal data. Facebook is one of the names that comes up most frequently here, and that’s partially because their privacy policy is crafted so well to tell you things without actually telling you things. In the aftermath 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal, people began digging into the company’s ongoing shady privacy practices and found a company that deliberately spied on underage teens, covertly used uploaded selfies to build out facial recognition systems, and kept records of countless people’s calls and texts without their knowledge. Then came Mark Zuckerberg’s year-long apology tour. Then came Facebook’s ongoing attempt to redo its labyrinthian privacy policies into something more “black and white.” As it stands now, Facebook’s mammoth Data Policy clocks in at over 4,200 words, and any attempt to read the tome in full means sacrificing close to 20 minutes of your day, per a recent New York Times analysis. Sprawling and incomprehensible privacy policies aren’t anything unique to Facebook. What is unique is that a lot of the company’s policies are largely written in words the basic person can understand. If you sit down for about half an hour with a cup of coffee in one hand and a full printout of Facebook’s policies in the other, you’ll probably come out with a decent idea of how the company’s money-for-data machine works. Or at least, that’s what you’ll think. Facebook’s privacy policies are a master class in divulging just enough to satisfy most people’s curiosities about the company’s creepiest practices, without giving them enough details to actually protect themselves. It’s a privacy policy loaded with dead ends and tech tangents designed to give you the illusion of control—but that’s it. That said, I’m an optimist. Maybe the company is too busy with its federal antitrust suits, multiple international probes, and the whole Elon Musk thing to bother making policies any more transparent than they actually are. Or maybe Facebook just doesn’t know where to start….simply deleting your Facebook account will never be enough…”

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