Facebook Wants Its Ads to Follow You Everywhere

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It's that time of year again, boys and girls: Time for Facebook to test the boundaries of how much of your data it can collect and sell to advertisers. That's right, the social network has just posted a long string of updates to its privacy data use policy. Calling it a privacy policy would give the wrong impression because, as Forbes' Kashmir Hill explains, "Most privacy policies aren’t about protecting your privacy, but explaining to you how a company will exploit the data it has on you."

This update isn't designed to be a massive overhaul. Many of the changes are actually clarifications as requested by the Irish Data Commissioner's Office. But there is one stark difference in the new policy: Facebook will now use your data to show you targeted ads on other websites. And it will be using more of your data than before. "Everything you do and say on Facebook can be used to serve you ads," Facebook's Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan told Hill. "Our policy says that we can advertise services to you off of Facebook based on data we have on Facebook."

Before you freak out, we ought to point out that the difference in policy isn't using your information to serve up ads. Facebook has been doing that for a while. Rather, it's using that information to serve up ads off of Facebook.com. As TechCrunch's Josh Constine points out, this appears to be an early glimmer of a Facebook ad network. Nevertheless, those concerned about Facebook's already pretty wide reach on the Internet won't be comforted to imagine a future in which that reach is even wider. Then again, it seems kind of useful to see more ads that are relevant to you instead of random and spammy. But even though the language of the updated data use policy is careful to explain that your data will be made anonymous before it's sent to any advertisers, Facebook users ought to get really comfortable with many more websites getting access to their personal data.

The new policy is not final. Facebook will be holding a live Q&A session at 12 p.m. EST Monday, May 14 and users will be able to send in their feedback using this form until 8 p.m. EST Friday, May 18.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.