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Saturday, April 06, 2013
Facebook Responds To Home Privacy Concerns

Facebook has posted a Q&A on its website about the privacy implications of its new Facebook Home software for Android phones.

Since the announcement of Home earlier this week, Facebook received a few questions about how Home works with privacy.

In a blog post on privacy, Facebook is noting that users don't have to use Home in order to use Facebook, and that users can turn off Home if they install it and then decide they don't want to use it.

Like other parts of Facebook, Home collects information when you interact with the service, such as liking or commenting on a post or sending a message. Home also may collect other information about how you use it. For example, Facebook maintains a list of the apps that you have in the Home app launcher. Facebook says it stores this information in identifiable form for 90 days and use it to provide the service and improve how it works.

For devices that come with Home preinstalled, Home can display system notifications, meaning that it will show notifications from apps on your phone. Since these notifications appear in Home, Facebook collects information about the notification (such as which app is generating them) but not the content of the notification itself. Again, Facebook says it removes identifying information from this data after 90 days.

Concerning cllecting of users' location data, Home can likely access a phone's GPS and send information" back to Facebook about a user's location. Facebook posed the question, "Does Home collect my location?" and answered it as follows: "Facebook Home doesn't use location in any way that's different from the Facebook app you already have on your Android phone. You can learn about how location works across Facebook in our Data Use Policy and Help Center."

The data use policy states that the data Facebook collects can include Internet Protocol addresses and a user's location. "For example, we may get your GPS or other location information so we can tell you if any of your friends are nearby."

Facebook added that Home would only see how you interact with Home itself and not other apps. For example, Facebook could see that you launched a map application using the app launcher, but Facebook would not receive information about what directions you searched for or any other activity within the app itself. "Of course, some apps already are Facebook-enabled so that you can share your activity within the app back to Facebook," Facebook added.

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