A Privacy Policy Re-imagined For Users Like You

February 25, 2011 at 6:49am

At Facebook, we are constantly developing new experiences and features to help you control your information.  Some of our recent work includes simplified privacy settings and publisher privacy controls that let you select your audience every time you post something on Facebook.  We plan a lot more innovations in the months ahead so check back from time to time.


However, there is more to controlling your information than just settings.  It’s also important that you understand how information is used and what your choices are.  That’s why the privacy team took on a new project and applied Facebook’s unconventional, innovative spirit to develop a new privacy policy written for regular people.


Many websites’ privacy policies are challenging for people to understand because they are often written for regulators and privacy advocates, not the majority of people who actually use those websites.  Our own privacy policy has been criticized as being “5830 words of legalese” and "longer than the U.S. constitution – without the amendments."  Okay, you're right.  We agree that privacy policies can and should be more easily understood, and that inspired us to try something different.


We thought a lot about the things people really want from a privacy policy, and came up with a few basic principles:


  1. First, it should be easy to understand, even when the concepts are complicated, or it is of no use to anyone.
  2. Second, it should be visual and interactive, because that's the way people use the web today.
  3. And third, it should focus on the questions people who use Facebook are most likely to ask, because that makes it relevant.


These principles are based on feedback we’ve received from thousands of people and from our ongoing conversations with privacy experts, policy makers and regulators from around the world.


So today, we’re giving you a look at our first attempt on what a privacy policy written for you could look like.  You can check it out here.  It’s important to note that this draft is outside of even our regular process of notice and comment.  Because we're tackling a challenge that matters to so many people -- and doing it in a way that is so different from what we've done before --  we’re giving you a look even earlier in the process. If people like what we have, we’ll put it through our regular notice and comment process at a later date.


Finally, we’ve tried not to change the substance of the policy but, in our effort to simplify, we have added some new things that were elsewhere on the site (like our help center) and have made some other concepts clearer. You can see some comparison visuals here and an overview of the concepts here.


There is still a lot of work to do, and we want your feedback to tell us if we’re on the right track and how we might make it even better.  Please leave your questions and suggestions in the comments field below.


We hope you like this approach.  And if you do, we’ll consider making it our official privacy policy.