Facebook is proposing to clarify how it manages user data for advertisements, as part of an agreement stemming from a settlement of a class-action lawsuit.
The company said today it is working to provide simpler language on how it may use a member's name, profile picture and other data for ads. Facebook is proposing updates to two important documents that govern its site - the Data Use Policy (DUP) and the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SRR). These documents tell users about how Facebook collects and uses data, and the rules that apply when somebody chooses to use Facebook.
The updates include more information on how outside applications may use data; how the company gathers information on members from mobile devices; and how advertisers may be able to reach users from the details they already have on them.
Among the proposals, Facebook is considering incorporating most of its 1 billion-plus members' profile photos into its growing facial recognition database.
The proposed move is intended to improve the performance of its "Tag Suggest" feature. The feature uses facial recognition technology to speed up the process of labeling or "tagging" friends and acquaintances who appear in photos posted on the network.
The technology currently automatically identifies faces in newly uploaded photos by comparing them only to previous snapshots in which users were tagged. Facebook users can choose to remove tags identifying them in photos posted by others on the site.
Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan said that adding members' public profile photos would give users better control over their personal information, by making it easier to identify posted photos in which they appear.
"Our goal is to facilitate tagging so that people know when there are photos of them on our service," Egan said.
She stressed that Facebook users uncomfortable with facial recognition technology will still be able to "opt out" of the Tag Suggest feature altogether.
Google's social network, Google+, also employs similar technology, but requires user consent.
"Over the next seven days, we will give people the chance to review and comment on these proposed updates. We will carefully consider feedback before adopting any changes and we will keep you posted on the Site Governance page throughout the process," said Egan.
Facebook has faced multiple privacy flaps over the past few years, which it has taken steps to address.
The new proposals reflect some of the agreements laid out in the lawsuit settlement for the company's "Sponsored Stories" ads, which access users' names and other data to help create ads.
For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-site-governance/proposed-updates-to-our-governing-documents/10153167395945301