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Meta consolidates its privacy policy to appease regulators

·2-min read

In an effort to make its notoriously dense user agreements less labyrinthine, Meta has rewritten and redesigned how that information is presented.

The company insists that the changes are in form, not function, bolding some lines, adding subheaders and illustrations instead of presenting that information as a giant wall of text. The result is still mostly a giant wall of text but one designed to appease regulators across the globe as they amp up scrutiny on how social media platforms inform consumers.

Meta Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman cited "more demand" from regulators and privacy laws seeking to ensure that privacy policies cover as much ground as possible. The company also made similar changes to its terms of service, which sets out rules people must abide by to use its platforms.

"One of the challenges that we and lots of other companies are facing is privacy policies really … need to be comprehensive and provide explicit detail about how people's data is used and protected, which translates to more words on the page," Sherman said. "But they also need to be understandable, which means that we need to do more to help people navigate what's written."

The rewritten privacy policy provides new examples and infographics that spell out what the company can and can't do with private user data more clearly. The redrafted policies will tie into all Meta products except for WhatsApp.

People who use Meta's stable of products will begin receiving updates today noting the privacy policy changes, which go into effect on July 26. While users might understandably think something has shifted in the way apps like Facebook and Instagram collect data, the company says there are no changes to the amount of information it collects

"A big part of the goal is obviously to first of all make sure that we meet our regulatory obligations," Sherman said. "But beyond that, to make sure that people understand how our data is used — it's not good for us if if people are surprised by data practices."

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