Facebook’s Privacy Policy: 50 settings, 170+ options, longer than U.S. Constitution

May 13th, 2010 by Chris Hogg Leave a reply »

I got a lot of feedback via email and comments on DigitalJournal.com yesterday about my post on the Great Facebook Departure, highlighting high-profile bloggers and pundits who are ditching the social network.

In a related follow-up, I found this NYTimes piece on Facebook’s privacy policy to be particularly interesting.

A few quick facts for you:

  • To manage your privacy on Facebook, you will need to navigate through 50 settings with more than 170 options.
  • Facebook’s Privacy Policy is longer than the United States Constitution: Facebook’s Privacy Policy is 5,830 words long; the United States Constitution, without any of its amendments, is a concise 4,543 words.
  • Facebook’s “Help Center” is available to assist users, but the word count for the privacy-related FAQ adds up to more than 45,000 words.

For those of you interested in seeing Facebook’s privacy policy in visual form, check out this illustrative diagram. This overview shows you how your information is shared and what’s needed to manage it.

According to this diagram from the NY Times, Facebook’s Privacy Policy has grown from 1,004 words in 2005 to 5,830 words today. To compare it to other social networks:

  • MySpace: 2,290 words
  • Friendster: 1,977 words
  • Twitter: 1,203 words
  • Flickr: 384 words

With all of these settings and this boatload of verbiage, Facebook says its goal is to offer precise controls for sharing on the Internet. While the myriad of choices do in fact make it very clear what information is being shared, I’m curious how many people actually wade through the settings to tweak them? And if you’re not technically inclined, do you even know how to?

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