Facebook has closed its comment period on proposed changes to two of the company’s key policies explaining how it uses consumer data.
The social network first proposed the changes last week, saying that it was looking to clarify certain aspects of its data use policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, including changes aimed at giving its users better information on how it applies user data to its advertising products.
Some of the changes were the result of a final settlement the company made with users who said their images and other content were being used in advertising without consent. The new language states that Facebook can use “your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you” in ads for businesses or other entities.
Facebook said it would leave this comment period open for seven days, consider those comments and then implement the changes. The company plans to put its policies into place sometime next week, a Facebook spokeswoman said.
“We are taking the time to ensure that people’s comments are reviewed and taken into consideration to determine whether further updates are necessary and we expect to finalize the process in the coming week,” she said in a statement.
On Wednesday, six privacy groups sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking the agency to stop Facebook from putting these policies into effect. The groups, which include the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Consumer Watchdog and the Center for Digital Democracy, said that the wording changes also indicate that Facebook has expanded the scope of the data Facebook has told users it is collecting.
Doing so would violate a 2011 settlement the company made with the FTC, in which it agreed not to make material changes to its policies without first notifying its users. On Thursday, FTC spokeswoman Cheryl Hackley confirmed that the agency had received the document but declined additional comment.
The fact that Facebook did not change its policies when it closed the comment period led to some reports that company was delaying its implementation because of the letter.
But a company spokeswoman disputed that characterization and said Facebook had not delayed anything.
As for the letter, the company said that it only revised the language of how it uses data and made clear that “you are granting Facebook permission for this use when you use our service.”
But, the company said, it hasn’t changed any of its practices or policies. “[We] only made things clearer for people who use our service.”
(Washington Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.)
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