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Facebook to Make More Changes to Its Privacy Policies

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facebook-logoUpdated with additional comment from Facebook: Facebook, as expected, will implement changes to its privacy policies within the next year in order to comply with Canadian law, the country’s privacy commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, confirmed this morning. The changes — which will be applied across the social networking site — include making its user deactivation process more transparent as well as giving users more control over what personal information third-party application developers have access to.

When a user tries to deactivate their account, Facebook will now make clear how that differs from deleting it, which removes all personal information from the company’s servers. And users will now be able to select what category of information they want to share with third-party application developers; they will also be able to follow a link to an app developer’s site that further explains how their personal information is being used, said Assistant Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.

Facebook will submit reports throughout the year updating the privacy commissioner about its progress implementing the privacy changes. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner will also be able to test out Facebook’s new privacy model to ensure it complies with Canadian law before signing off on the changes.

Stoddart said another major social network has contacted her office to review its privacy polices, but she declined to name the company. One-third of the Canadian population is on Facebook.

Facebook said in a press release this morning that the privacy changes will be implemented throughout the social network, meaning it won’t just affect Canadian users. Update: Facebook said during a conference call with journalists that it didn’t know how much it would cost to implement the privacy changes and declined to provide any estimates. Application developers will still be able to build strong businesses even with the tighter policies and the company will be working closely with the developer community as it changes its application API, according to Facebook’s senior platform manager, Dave Morin (read more on Facebook’s blog post to developers). Facebook plans to do a complete revision of its privacy policy next month, which includes providing a better explanation about what happens to an account after a user dies. The social network also revealed that when a user opts to delete their data from the company’s servers, it takes about two weeks for their information to be completely erased.