Facebook launches 'Ask Our CPO' to address privacy concerns


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Do you think Facebook’s Privacy Policies are getting more confusing by the day? Well, the social networking giant finally seems to have awoken to the fact and has launched a new service called ‘Ask Our Chief Privacy Officer’ (CPO) to help address concerns users might have related to privacy and its Privacy Policy.

Users can fill up a form on Facebook’s Privacy Page and CPO Erin Egan will address these queries in a once-a-month note series. This is the newest alternative Facebook has announced to help make its users’ voice heard when policies are made or altered. Earlier, Facebook had a much-loved voting system that was thrown open to users whenever policy changes were announced.

Explaining why this new service was started, Egan wrote in her first note, “At Facebook, we work hard to build and maintain your trust. We understand that you’ll want to share on Facebook only if you trust us to protect the privacy and security of your information. We also understand that issues about privacy can be complex given the fast-moving nature of technology and that you have questions about privacy.”

Ask your question away!

Well, yes. Issues about privacy on Facebook are ‘complex’ to say the least. This move seems to a smart one to help Facebook avoid a lot of bad publicity over such issues.

If you have a question related to privacy that you'd like to ask the CPO, you can head to Facebook’s Privacy Page and click on ‘Ask Erin’. Fill out the form and submit it, and Egan might just choose to answer your question in her monthly note, which will be published on the Privacy Page. Egan will also be conducting live video conferences regularly.

Egan answered a few questions as an example of the kind of issues she will be replying to regularly, one of them being the all-important question of whether Facebook sells information to advertisers. “No,” writes Egan, “Facebook, like many companies on the web, is able to keep our service free by including advertisements. But we don’t make money by selling your private information to third parties. Instead, we support our service by showing you relevant ads that help you discover products and services that are interesting to you. We use the things you do and share on Facebook, including demographics, likes and interests to show ads that are more relevant to you.”

Interestingly, this new service comes on the back of a $20 million settlement proposed by Facebook in a class-action lawsuit accusing it of violating the rights of users through its ‘Sponsored Stories’ advertising feature.

The new settlement agreement, filed on Saturday in a District Court in San Francisco, has seen Facebook offer $20 million to users who were affected by the Sponsored Stories problem. Essentially, affected users can now claim up to $10 from Facebook for having their profile details appear besides Sponsored Stories without any compensation or a way to opt out.

"We believe the revised settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate and responds to the issues raised previously by the court," Andrew Noyes, a Facebook spokesman, said in a statement. As part of the settlement, Facebook has also agreed to give users more control over how their likes and information appear.