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Facebook Rolls Out New, Simpler Privacy Policy

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks to students at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, Calif. His company released a new, simpler privacy policy Thursday, but it does not make any big changes to how much data the company collects from users. Alex Washburn/AP hide caption

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Alex Washburn/AP

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks to students at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, Calif. His company released a new, simpler privacy policy Thursday, but it does not make any big changes to how much data the company collects from users.

Alex Washburn/AP

Facebook is simplifying its privacy policy, with a new set of pages called Privacy Basics. The pages are colorful, clickable and include some animation, and they all have much less legal jargon than previous versions.

Facebook says its new policy is 2,700 words. The company's old one was more than 9,000. The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook worked with the Council of Better Business Bureaus on the pages.

The new Privacy Basics is broken down into three sections: "What Others See About You," "How Others Interact With You" and "What You See." There's also a Data Policy page that answers questions like, "What kind of information do we collect?" and "How do we use this information?"

Facebook has posted a page for users to submit questions and comments on the new policy. The site says it will take those into consideration and then share final updates soon after.

The new policy does not make any changes to how much data Facebook collects from users. In fact, Recode.net reports that one paragraph in particular "spells out its [Facebook's] ambitions to sell you stuff and to serve you ads based on your location." Here's more:

Information about payments.

If you use our Services for purchases or financial transactions (like when you buy something on Facebook, make a purchase in a game, or make a donation), we collect information about the purchase or transaction. This includes your payment information, such as your credit or debit card number and other card information, and other account and authentication information, as well as billing, shipping and contact details.

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Deborah Aho Williamson, who covers social media marketing for emarketer.com and tracks Facebook closely, says even if the new privacy policy doesn't fundamentally change what Facebook does, it's worthwhile.

"They've learned over the years that they need to be more revealing and more forthcoming about what people can and can't see and what advertisers can and can't use about Facebook's users," she said. "I think people are going to recognize that Facebook is making a concerted effort."

But, Williamson acknowledges that new policy or not, Facebook is still in the moneymaking business.

"Bottom line ... people need to recognize that Facebook is a business," she said. "And the main business they're in is advertising, and the main way that they deliver advertising is by using the information that people share about themselves on Facebook."

At Wired.com, Issie Lapowsky wonders how much this new policy will change, because she's guessing that not many people will even bother checking it out:

The reality is that most Facebook users will not read the policy, and even if they do take issue with the way Facebook intends to collect information about their purchases or use their location information to target advertisements, most will likely continue to use Facebook. Such is the way of the modern web...