Facebook Lockdown: Social Network To Update Privacy Policy

Social networking site Facebook for the past year worked with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada in order to examine current settings and options in order to develop new policies designed in part to give users more control over the personal information granted to third-party applications.

"Our productive and constructive dialogue with the Commissioner's office has given us an opportunity to improve our policies and practices in a way that will provide even greater transparency and control for Facebook users," Elliot Schrage, vice president of global communications and public policy at Facebook, said in a statement. "We believe that these changes are not only great for our users and address all of the Commissioners' outstanding concerns, but they also set a new standard for the industry."

According to the social network, Facebook's privacy policy will receive an update in the coming months to include additional information about some of its practices. Users can expect to see an explanation of why Facebook asks users for their date of birth and how its advertising programs work. Additionally, the distinction between a deactivated and deleted account will be elucidated.

Facebook will also place a greater emphasis on having members review its privacy policy in an attempt to make sure individuals make their profiles as open or locked down as they feel is necessary.

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Perhaps the most notable change to Facebook's policies regards the information that third-party applications will be able to access.

"We strongly believe that the changes to the permission model for third-party applications will give users more confidence in Platform and will, thus, help ensure the long-term health and vitality of the ecosystem that has grown around Platform," Ethan Beard, director of platform product marketing at Facebook, said in a statement.

Among the changes that the social network specified would be forth coming would be the requirement that third party applications state what information they want to obtain from users. Furthermore, users will have to grant express permission for third party developed applications to obtain the personal information they wish to gain.

In another attempt to protect user privacy, a Facebook user who installs third-party applications will have to grant his or her express permission for that application to get access to any friend's information. The forthcoming update also notes that even if a user providers a third-party application access to friends, that person's privacy settings will still be taken into account.