Róisín Nestor examines Facebook's new privacy policy and argues that the social media giant knows a lot more about you than you think.
On January 1st 2015 Facebook rolled out their new privacy policy. A few weeks later, people filled our news feeds with statuses declaring that they don’t give Facebook permission to use their information. 
 
Hold on now, didn’t you all read your terms and conditions before clicking sign up when you first started your account? Me neither. 
 
Did you know that Facebook knows your mobile phone number (even if you didn’t put it up) your network provider and your geographic location?
 
When I looked into Facebook’s privacy and data policies (which are all available on the site) I discovered a lot of things I had been naïve about. Facebook have a lot more control over your information than most people realise. Facebook collect information and content when you use their site. 
 
According to Facebook, "This can include information in or about the content you provide, such as the location of a photo or the date a file was created. We also collect information about how you use our services, such as the types of content you view or engage with or the frequency and duration of your activities.
 
“You give us permission to use your name, profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you.”
 
If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, then Facebook will take this into account, so it’s worth checking if people can see what pages you like.
 
If you use Facebook to transfer money, information is collected such as your credit or debit card number and other card information, alongside other account and authentication information, as well as billing, shipping and contact details.
 
“If the ownership or control of all or part of our services or their assets changes, we may transfer your information to the new owner.” 
 
This means your information could potentially be passed on to Facebook’s other companies, including Whats App and Instagram, but also to a range of other ones like Atlas and Live Rail.

Except your information that’s being passed on to all these other companies is subject to their terms and conditions, not Facebook’s.  
 
After completing a subscription to National Geographic I flicked back over to Facebook where my suggested ad was (surprise, surprise) National Geographic. This is how quickly Facebook reacts. They monitor the sites you visit while you’re logged into Facebook. Facebook also use cookies after you’ve logged out.
 
So what can one do? 
 
One such person who is making a big statement is an Austrian called Max Schrems. The lawyer and privacy activist is taking legal action against Facebook. He claims Facebook’s involvement with the PRISM services, as revealed by Edward Snowden, has violated European user’s privacy rights. The first hearing will take place in Vienna on the 9th of April 2015. 
 
But for the ordinary user? Deleting your Facebook might be the obvious choice, but there’s no denying that Facebook has a role to play. You can promote on Facebook, keep in contact with friends or hear about events. Chances are you discovered this article while browsing Facebook.
 
Keep in mind that nothing on Facebook is completely private. Even if your mother’s sister’s ex-boyfriend told you that no one can take your stuff because you put it all on private. After every update, Facebook can change your settings, so ensure you’re as private as possible. Timeline review allows you to check photos before you are publicly tagged in them. 
 
I’m sure many of us will be familiar with our parents repeating my final message: 
 
“Don’t put anything up on Facebook that you wouldn’t want to see on the front of a newspaper.”
 
Photo: Maria Elena/ Flickr