Meta Updates Privacy Policy, Introduces New Privacy Controls

Meta sign outside its headquarters in Menlo Park California

Meta announced on Thursday that it has updated its privacy policy based on feedback from users and privacy experts. The tech giant has completely re-written its policy to make it easily understandable and added new privacy controls for users.

According to Meta, although the new text may look different from the previous version, it does not change the way the company collects, uses, or shares user data.

Easily Understandable Privacy Policy

Meta’s privacy policy update applies to some of its flagship products, including Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram. However, the privacy policy of its popular messaging service, WhatsApp, won’t receive any updates.

The changes to Meta’s policy have more to do with how it is written than its substance. The company said it aims to be more clear about its data practices. To achieve this, it has re-written its Privacy Policy (previously referred to as Data Policy) using easy-to-understand language and adding details and examples throughout the text.

Critics have highlighted the fact that companies often use overly complicated language in their privacy policies and terms and conditions to intimidate users into agreeing to them without truly understanding what they mean.

Meta says it hopes that more people can read its updated policy to learn about its practices. The updated policy contains up-to-date information about new products, such as Shops and Facebook View. The company uses examples to explain how the information it collects supports its personalized services like recommended content and suggested connections.

The updated policy contains information about third-party data sharing. This includes details on the third parties and answers to how and why Meta shares user information across its products. It also provides some insight into how and when the company shares user information with law enforcement.

New Privacy Controls for Users

Besides changing the language of its policy and improving the Privacy Center, Meta is rolling out two new user privacy controls.

The first is a setting that makes it easier to manage who views a user’s content on Facebook. By unifying the controls for Ad Topics and Interest Categories, the company has also made it easier for users to manage the ads they see on Facebook and Instagram.

“This allows people to use a single control to set preferences across ad topics that reflect the interest targeting categories advertisers may use to reach them and the content they might see in an ad,” Michel Protti, Meta’s chief product officer, said.

Meta also revealed that it is updating its Terms of Service.

Working to Regain Public Trust

Over the past 15 years, Meta has been behind some of the world’s most popular social media, messaging, and VR services. Despite its large user base, all has not been rosy with the company.

Meta has struggled to regain public trust since the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018. Recently, the company shut down its facial recognition system on Facebook and halted plans for an Instagram app for kids.

Meta’s data collection practices have landed the company in hot water with privacy regulators. In the EU, privacy regulators in Ireland, Italy, and other countries have criticized and fined the company for its data practices.

Since 2021, Meta has taken several measures to regain public trust, such as its initiatives to improve cybersecurity on Facebook and counter doxing. In early 2022, the company launched its Privacy Center, where users can learn about its approach to privacy across its products.

If this story piqued your interest, we recommend checking out our Facebook privacy settings guide. It will help you understand what information is public or private on the platform. It will also show you how you can easily take control of your privacy on Facebook. We have a similar guide for Instagram.

Technology policy researcher
Prateek is a technology policy researcher with a background in law. His areas of interest include data protection, privacy, digital currencies, and digital literacy. Outside of his research interests, Prateek is an avid reader and is engaged in projects on sustainable farming practices in India.