Facebook has a reputation of running roughshod over its users’ privacy and then acting as if there is a ‘no harm, no foul’ attitude that we should all adopt. Whether you let them off the hook or not is your call. Most simply put up with it and move on regardless.
The level of mistrust that has developed over the years is a healthy one but let’s be realistic here. It’s mostly shared by a vocal minority that Facebook is smart enough to realize is confined in a relatively tight echo chamber. After all there are about 1 billion users of Facebook and it is probably safe to say (in an extremely non-scientific manner) that at least 95% of them either don’t have a clue about what Facebook knows about them nor do they care. When it comes to how privacy is viewed by Facebook users, Facebook knows that its best result falls under the ‘ignorance is bliss’ category. They’re not stupid. Oh, and let’s not forget, this is for Android users only which is, for the most part, a different crowd than folks using iOS for their mobile experience.
So with the new Facebook Home offering that was announced last week that is set to start appearing in the wild on April 12, Facebook is looking to get out in front of any privacy issues. It’s a smart move and one that is pure CYA since we recognize that Facebook wants as much data as they can possibly get on every single user of Facebook. Why? For advertisers to target better. It’s a simple formula and if they act as if they have their users’ best interest at heart they can likely get away with gathering more and more data from the vast majority of users who are relatively clueless.
So in a post from last Friday Facebook addresses many of these privacy concerns and gives the appearance of transparency. Here are a few of their ‘answers’ to privacy questions that users of Home will likely never truly investigate. The first question of the post speaks to just how uneducated many Facebook users are likely to be. In other words, Facebook has little to worry about.
Q: Do I have to use Home to access Facebook on Android?
A: No. Home is a new way to experience Facebook, and we hope people enjoy using it. But you won’t get Home unless you specifically choose to do so — either by downloading Home from the Play Store or by purchasing a phone with Home preinstalled.
Q: What information does Home collect?
A: Like other parts of Facebook, Home collects information when you interact with the service, such as liking or commenting on a post or sending a message. Home also may collect other information about how you use it. For example, Facebook maintains a list of the apps that you have in the Home app launcher. We store this information in identifiable form for 90 days and use it to provide the service and improve how it works.
For devices that come with Home preinstalled, Home can display system notifications, meaning that it will show notifications from apps on your phone. Since these notifications appear in Home, Facebook collects information about the notification (such as which app is generating them) but not the content of the notification itself. We remove identifying information from this data after 90 days.
Personally, I have no interest in Home. I don’t have specific reasons but it is a general feeling that how I use Facebook presently is more than sufficient and there is no reason to get sucked into a Facebook social vortex. I also doubt very much that iOS users will be rushing to Android devices just so they can get on board either. For these two reasons alone I wonder just how pervasive Home can actually become.
What are your impressions of Home? Will is make an impact in the marketplace? Since it is an Android only play is this simply Facebook’s way of further locking in those who have cheaper phones and are less likely to care about what Facebook is doing to them rather than what it is doing for them? And if the folks who may be the target of Home are not the ‘cream of the crop’ of Internet users what kind of advertising or what type of advertisers will likely benefit from the Home crowd?