Facebook’s New Terms of Service

I don’t know about you, but for the past two weeks, every time I’ve logged on to Facebook, an alert pops up reminding me about Facebook’s TOS (Terms of Service) policy change– applicable as of January 1st.

“By using our services after January 1,” the alert reads, “you agree to our updated terms, data policy and cookies policy and to seeing improved ads based on apps and sites you use. Learn more about these updates and how to control the ads you see.”

Finally, I clicked through to review my settings and see what all the hubbub was about. It all seemed straightforward enough to me. I ensured my data was only being shared with friends. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The “Privacy” and “Timeline and Tagging” sections were the same length, more or less, as far as I could tell. Six questions total, sixteen possible answers. Nothing I hadn’t seen before.

I had to leave Facebook to figure out what Facebook was trying to tell me. A quick internet search revealed that what Facebook means by “you agree to seeing improved ads” etc., is that they have introduced a new GPS location data policy that allows them to target you with hyper-localized advertising, based on where you are, where you shop, and even where your closest friends shop.

If you do not agree to allow Facebook to mine your data and advertise to you in this way, then you do not agree to use Facebook. They’re not kicking you off, but you might as well not sign in.

“You’re in charge.” This is the first, largest, piece of text that pops up when you click through to Facebook’s new “Privacy Basics” tutorial, easily accessible via the little lock icon at the top of the screen. Our new policy, explains Facebook, is meant “to help you get the experience you want.” Our new policy, Facebook doesn’t explain, is also kinda sorta highly intrusive.

And yet to play devil’s advocate– is this really that bad? When I watch TV, I am forced to sit through six minute commercial breaks for car insurance, chain restaurants, children’s toys, men’s deodorant, and more that usually drive me to actually leave the channel I’m watching in search of programming that isn’t advertising. Maybe I remember to switch back, but maybe that show has also just lost me as a viewer.

On Facebook, I can, if I want, discover new startups and small businesses, or find a new brand I inevitably like because it has been referred to me based on my own tastes. I don’t have to click on these ads if I don’t want to. I don’t have to mute them, or switch sites. I will probably never see another McDonald’s advertisement in my life, and good riddance!

So will I accept the policy and continue using Facebook? Absolutely. What will you do and why?

Sharon Bruce
Marketing Consultant

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