This week, Facebook announced a new update to their policies that more clearly forbids developers from using Facebook as a place to gather data for surveillance tools. Facebook feels that tools that use the data on their platform for surveillance discourage users from sharing openly on Facebook. Part of the goal of the new policy is to help people feel safer when they are using Facebook so that they don’t have to filter what they say on social media as much.
The update is partially a result of Facebook’s work with the ACLU and other civil rights groups. A recent report by the ACLU uncovered that police were using a surveillance tool that acquired data through Facebook to keep tabs on protests in Oakland and Baltimore. If people worry that police might be targeting their posts and keeping an eye on them, they might be less likely to use Facebook in different ways. Since Facebook is concerned with civil rights, they are implementing this update to help prevent apps connected to Facebook being used to spy on members of the Facebook community.
The main focus of the update is to make it easier for Facebook to shut down apps using Facebook data for surveillance purposes. The updated policy is intended as a barrier against developers who could use their access to Facebook information to provide information to law enforcement or other agencies. Facebook hopes that the language of the new update will make it clearer what isn’t allowed so that apps can easily follow the policies.
The new update to this policy is just another update on top of previous updates that have helped to prevent discrimination within the platform through third party sources. Other recent changes to the policies have includes ones to prevent discriminatory adds and using Facebook data to help in the process of approving or denying loans.