SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook pressed ahead Friday with changes to its privacy policies, first proposed in August, that make it clear that users’ postings on the service and other personal data can be used in advertising on the site.
The proposed changes drew an outcry from many users, some privacy groups, and members of Congress, and prompted the Federal Trade Commission to scrutinize the company’s plans.
“Your feedback was clear — we can do better — and it led to a number of clarifying edits,” the company wrote in a blog post announcing the final version of the policies, which went into effect immediately.
All of the changes fit a broader pattern: Facebook is pushing its users to share more data while also making that information more widely available. And public comments about, say, a popular television show or the Affordable Care Act could suddenly show up on TV as Facebook works with broadcasters to showcase the conversations that are happening on the service.
Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with 1.2 billion monthly users, and its privacy practices draw a great deal of attention.
Facebook insisted all along that it was not changing any policies but simply clarifying its existing practices.
One of its most important advertising products, called sponsored stories, involves rebroadcasting user posts praising a company’s product to their friends. So if someone posted “Just had a great seafood feast at Red Lobster” or even just clicked ‘like’ on the chain’s Facebook page, the restaurant company might pay to make sure that endorsement showed up high in the news feeds of that person’s friends.
While Facebook has clarified its disclosures, it has not acted on two other important provisions of the settlement that would give users more control over how their information is used in sponsored stories.
One provision requires the company to give parents the ability to prevent their children’s information from being used in such advertising.
The other would allow all users to see if Facebook had turned any comments they had made on the service into a sponsored story ad and allow them to opt out of future broadcasting of that ad.