Posted Online: Dec. 08, 2012, 5:40 pm
Tired of Facebook policy changes?
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By Leslie Meredith
New proposed policy changes by Facebook are due to go into effect now that the seven-day commenting period has closed. Assuming Facebook doesn't make big changes based on the comments, here is what you can expect.
Little has changed in terms of Facebook's Data Use Policy, but reading through the revisions should remind users that there's not much privacy on Facebook. Most of the changes were added to clarify how Facebook uses the user data it collects to show relevant ads, and to remind users that hiding and deleting items doesn't mean they have been removed from the site.
Facebook spelled out the types of topics that will be shared with advertisers as interests when users like a Page, including products and brands they like, religion, political views and health status.
For instance, if Facebook users join a group that offers support for a health condition, they are likely to see ads from pharmaceutical companies that offer remedies. The sharing is not new, but Facebook is adding details to prevent its users from being surprised by ads coinciding with their demographic information that might seem intrusive. (Advertisers do not receive personally identifiable information.)
When you delete an item from your Timeline, it may remain visible to others who saw it in the past. "Anyone in the audience of those posts or who can see a connection may still see it elsewhere, like on someone else's timeline or in search results," Facebook's addition reads.
After an account has been closed for violating terms of service, Facebook will retain the records for at least a year. The 90-day limit for keeping a user's account information after an account is deleted remains unchanged.
If you invite a friend to join Facebook by making a request on the site, Facebook can pelt your friends with unlimited reminders to join. Previously, reminders were limited to two. So you might want to ask your friends yourself, in an email or in person, rather than sending invites in Facebook.
Facebook has eliminated voting on proposed policy changes by users, a method that hasn't worked in the past. In the last round of policy changes, users submitted thousands of gripes about Timeline and other issues that were never up for discussion, instead of commenting on the proposed changes.
Going forward, any changes will be open for comment for seven days before they can be put into effect. Facebook is not obligated to make changes based on user feedback.
While the changes don't pose any new threats to your privacy as a user of Facebook, you may be tired of hearing about them — and for that I apologize. However, Facebook has become an important way for friends and families to stay in touch. But there are alternatives.
I spoke with Emmalee Kremer, a spokeswoman for Path, a so-called private social network that is available only as a mobile app. which means iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android devices. She had this to say about Facebook.
"Our feeds are clogged with the latest "meme", our interests are being sold to advertisers.We can't even share a simple message with each other without getting lost in the noise," Kremer said. "Frankly, it all defeats the purpose of "connecting."
Path is a relatively new social network, established about two years ago in San Francisco. It was designed to be used as a complement to Facebook. The idea is to build a smaller network of people you really know and trust, such as those you would invite to a birthday party. Path limits the number of friends in a group to 150. There is no advertising on Path.
You do not need to have a Facebook account to use Path. Registering requires only your email address and a password. You have an option to add contacts from Facebook, but you may skip that step. Instead, once you've set up your account, you can invite people to join your path by sending them an email or a text message within Path's "Invite Friends" feature.
Path's posting feature is easily one of the most intuitive and simple to use. Press the red plus sign and you'll see five buttons that let you take or post a photo from your phone, add a location based on GPS, choose a song, book or movie from its database, type an update or let people know whether you're going to sleep or wide awake.
If you're a smartphone user, Path could become a handy way to keep in touch when you're away from your computer. Path is available for free from the App Store and Google Play.
Ogden, Utah-based TopTenREVIEWS.com guides consumers by comparing products in the world of technology, including electronics, software and Web services. Have a question? Email Leslie Meredith at email@example.com, or join her at AskLeslie on Facebook or Leslie Meredith on Google+.