Facebook’s Latest Privacy Policy Should Probably Concern You

Gather ‘round the computer, boys and girls. Uncle Mark has a really scary story to tell.

No, there are no ghosts or monsters in this one—but the beastie in this terrifying techie tale possesses powers much more sinister than the average horror villain. The beast in question is Facebook.

To be clear, I am in no way comparing the social media giant to Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, or Mike Myers, nor am I saying Facebook is evil. Scary? Yes. Evil? Maybe, depending upon your interpretation, but it didn’t come from me.

Normally, most of us sign up to Facebook without much thought as to how much information the social network site is collecting about us. Sure, many will take the time to post a rant about Facebook’s evil privacy policies, but normally those missives are uninformed and often futile. (Sorry folks, posting a legal notice on your Facebook wall will not protect your copyright and privacy rights.)

Regardless, let’s get down to the scary part, shall we? While it should come as no surprise that Facebook knows way too much about us, would it make a difference if you knew that the company’s new privacy policy will now be able to track your every move, even when you are logged out of the app? Thought so.

Yup, it’s creepy. A Facebook spokesperson states that the new policy “takes into account pages and places visited on Facebook, alongside browsing on the Internet at large.” According to the spokesperson, the policy changes help Facebook “to better serve more relevant advertising to you.”

See? They’re doing it all for us! How thoughtful.

Mark Zuckerberg and his peeps are being rather cavalier about all this with their position that the new policy is a good thing, arguing that it will improve the user experience by only showing us relevant ads. “Good” is pretty subjective here; the question is more a case of: good for whom?

While previously denying claims that they track users’ activity on the internet, now they’re being open about how the new updates essentially equate to your online activity being tracked. And not unlike any previous privacy policy updates, you are—but of course!—automatically opted in. And much like the Amityville House or that creepy hotel in The Shining, once you’re in you can’t get out. Seriously.

If you love your Facebook too much and don’t want to think about all the privacy implications, that’s cool I guess. You think Mark Zuckerberg and crew are cavalier about our privacy? They’ve got nothing on most of their users. I’ve talked to far too many people who just don’t care enough to do anything about it.

How about you?

If this gives you a case of the heeby-jeebies, you can read all the details about the new Facebook policy here. There’s a lot to digest, but if you care about this stuff it’s well worth the read. Granted, they still don’t make it easy to change many of the privacy settings, but the Privacy Basics page is a really good place to start.

Taking things one step further, you may want to check out this cool Opt Out service. It’s free, and although I’ve only done limited testing on it, it seems legit and should go a ways in taking some of your privacy back.