Facebook rolls out new ad policy

Facebook announced on Friday that its new data use policy has taken effect.

The updated policy contains new language explaining how the social network employs users’ data in advertising.

“Facebook sometimes pairs ads with social context, meaning stories about social actions that you or your friends have taken,” the updated policy says.

“For example, an ad for a sushi restaurant’s Facebook Page may be paired with a News Feed story that one of your friends likes that page.”

The updated policy, prompted by a lawsuit over social advertising and first announced in August, has been criticized by privacy advocates and some members of Congress.

In a letter last week, members of the Congressional Privacy Caucus asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to reconsider the updated policies. 

Specifically, lawmakers asked the company “to allow users to affirmatively opt-in or opt-out of the usage of their name, picture and any personal information” in advertising on the site. Additionally, the members asked Facebook to reinstate a privacy setting that kept users from being searchable by name and provide evidence that teens users want to be able to post content publicly.

In a blog post on Friday, Facebook reiterated that the policies underwent language, not permission, changes.

“We want you to know that nothing about this update has changed our advertising policies and practices,” the company’s Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan said in the blog post.

“The goal of the update was to clarify language, not to change policies or practices.”

Facebook’s post from Friday tells users they can opt-out of social advertising and directs readers to visit the site’s page on advertising resources to change their privacy settings.

After considering user feedback, Facebook removed a part of the updated policy that would have required users under the age of 18 to acknowledge that they and their parents had discussed and agreed to the site’s terms.

“This language was about getting a conversation started; we were not seeking and would not have gained any additional rights as a result of this addition,” Egan wrote.

“We received feedback, though, that the language was confusing and so we removed the sentence.”