The unveiling of Facebook Home a couple of days ago was met with privacy concerns, and now the company has responded to fears people may have had. There were rumors just before the official launch event that it could be something bigger than just an app, and that it was tied to a handset called the HTC First, initially appearing in the speculation as the Myst. Either way, the software is intended to make a smartphone inherently more social.
Now the SNS has come out to say that Home won’t change anything pertaining to users’ privacy settings on the website. It highlights the fact that privacy controls stay the same with the software on people’s phones as they do everywhere else on the social network. And if there are concerns about someone accessing messages and other personal content without having to bypass the lock screen, the feature can be disabled.
Okay, but what about online privacy? Is any boundary overstepped or encroached upon I that respect? Facebook says Home has been built to collect information only when a user likes or comments on a post, or sends a message. The service maintains a list of apps in its launcher and can display system notifications on devices which come pre-installed with the service. The SNS stipulates that it simply collects information on the notifications to improve the service, but isn’t privy to the content of the notification. As per policy, this data is removed after 90 days.
The key aspect here is that the enhanced user experience module does not collect information of activity in non-Facebook applications. As an example, the social network will know if a user launches a maps application, but will not be able to receive information about things like what directions were looked up, or basically any other activity. It should be noted though, that some applications offer the choice to share in-app activity on the SNS. Those that provide this level of integration will let users know of its presence.
So that should keep users with privacy concerns over Facebook Home placated, at least for a while. For now no one has started citing the Berne Convention and denouncing the system. About whether Home collects data on and tracks users’ location, Facebook says that it doesn’t use positional data any differently than the website’s app for Android, and users can even turn off this permission.