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Facebook acknowledges it shares info with Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp

  • Facebook updated its terms of service and data policy Wednesday to clarify what user information it collects and shares across its family of products including Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus and Messenger.
  • It breaks down what Facebook does with people's data and now includes information on features like Marketplace, Live and 360 video, which have been added since the data policy was last amended in 2015.

Facebook is updating its terms of service and data policy to clarify what user information it collects and shares across its family of products including Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus and Messenger.

The revised policies come at a time when the company is being scrutinized over how it shares personal information with third parties, especially in light of the Cambridge Analytica data leak. The new terms of service and data policy doesn't ask for more user data rights or change privacy controls.

However, it does break down in clearer language what Facebook does with people's data and now includes information on features like Marketplace, Live and 360 video, which were added since the data policy was last amended in 2015.

Here are the notable additions:

Facebook is acknowledging in its terms of service that it owns other platforms, including Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus and Messenger.

Facebook has never said it doesn't own other platforms, but in its previous terms of service it doesn't mention the other companies. In the new version, it clearly states how it uses data across its owned-and-operated products.

While many people are aware that Facebook owns other companies, some European countries have felt the company isn't clear enough that it is sharing data across platforms. German and EU regulators have been investigating how Facebook gets information from third parties, including sharing information from Instagram and WhatsApp. A German court in February ruled that Facebook's default privacy settings and use of personal data are illegal.

Facebook shows how your info is being used for advertising.

Facebook has previously explained what kinds of information it collects, but it's now being more transparent about how it uses it for advertising.

For example, it now details how your name, profile picture, actions on Facebook and information about previous interactions with ads could be used. It could include showing your friends that you are interested in an event or a brand that paid to be promoted on Facebook companies. It also explains how companies pay Facebook to show their content to relevant users, and how Facebook uses its algorithms to find the right people.

Facebook explains what information it shares with others and collects, including device information.

The company got in more hot water in late March when several Android phone users found the company had been collecting call and text data, including names, phone numbers and the length of each call made. Facebook says it keeps that information to help users find friends on its platforms, as well as to learn how they use its products including the duration of activities and what they looked at. It emphasizes it complies with mobile device settings.

Facebook states what it is doing to address harmful behavior.

The company now includes sections on how it finds harassment and suspicious activity on its platforms, which includes looking at user content. It also said it invested in artificial intelligence and machine learning to find content that violates its policies.