back to article Facebook's plain English data policy: WE'LL SELL YOU LIKE A PIG at a fair

Facebook has papered over its terms of use with a supposedly plain-English version, so that its users won't have to worry their pretty heads about being sold off to advertisers. Facebook Privacy Rights Yeah, right You can find the new "privacy basics" site here, or if you're not a child, the less insulting "data policy" …

  1. zen1

    And people..

    will still complain about not understand the ToS.

    1. Oninoshiko

      Re: And people..

      Justifiably, the actual content from the ToS and what the "privacy basics" page says is completely different.

  2. poopypants

    I get that some people refuse to use Google because their bots scan your emails for keywords, but what puzzles me is why those same people continue to use Facebook, which is actually worse.

    1. Spearchucker Jones

      Because (and I say this as a non-Google, but Facebook user) it just makes it so damn easy to share the odd comment with family that lives 6,008.41 miles (8,947.79 mi, if you prefer to drive) away. Even if that comment is little more than "I haven't heard from you. We saw whales today [+photo of big blubbery thing in the water]"

      There's little I share on Facebook, but my dad knows I get a notification on my phone when he writes on my wall. It's good for that.

  3. Vociferous

    You're not joking: the Privacy Basics site IS insulting.

    There's like ten words per page, which means that you need to click through about 100 pages to see all options.

    1. P. Lee

      Re: You're not joking: the Privacy Basics site IS insulting.

      You know you aren't supposed to click through, right?

      1. Vociferous

        Re: You're not joking: the Privacy Basics site IS insulting.

        you aren't supposed to click through

        That is indeed the impression one gets.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You're not joking: the Privacy Basics site IS insulting.

      The Privacy Basics site is basic, even insutling to techs and nerds, for the plain reason that the new rules mean that even a 13 year old can understand it in plain English, surely a good thing?

      I am all for simplicity, but on condition it's not obfuscating some important details and I don't trust FB or any US corporation to be really straight and upfront now we know what we know from Snowden.

  4. asdf


    Who the hell still uses Facebook and doesn't understand their modus operandi by now?

    1. Fred Tourette

      Re: Umm

      True, in a way it is akin to any idiot today taking up smoking with all that we now know. But some consideration should be given those early and recent adopters who, um, trusted Facebook (and the, um, dripping with integrity Zuck behind it). Nobody is forced to stay (or join), but the damage is done to those who already have.

      Easy for me to say, "See, I told you so," since I never took the Facebait. But that being said, I know I'm in a minority - every time someone says "You don't have Facebook?!" or "friends" that used to maintain contact via personal (or even shot-gunned) email now just do it wholesale on Facebook.

      Avoiding Facebook is like avoiding Microsoft - it can be done, but not always done easily.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just this:




  6. Gannettt

    I can hear Ed Reardon reading this plain English TOS now, complaining about "those bloody twelve-year-olds at Facebook" under his breath!

  7. mhoulden

    Before we start the tired old trope of "if you're not paying for it then you're the product", perhaps the advertisers might like to think about where they get their money from. It might sound obvious, but it comes from the people who buy what the advertisers are selling. This can be a high risk game: a poor advertising campaign can kill the product or even the company.

    Hoover found that offering free flights was very expensive. New Coke and Dasani quickly disappeared after bad publicity. Susan Boyle's record company could really have chosen a better hashtag than #susanalbumparty. More>Than Insurance were fined for flyposting with their first "Where's Lucky?" Campaign. Overuse of pop up adverts means that almost every browser has a built in pop up blocker.

    Using data mining techniques to make adverts more "relevant" means that people who see them are more likely to be better informed about the product, but also more critical. It's not surprising that El Reg doesn't allow comments on sponsored articles because you know people who use the item will just list its shortcomings. If a company's only profits come from displaying adverts, they get a bit stuck if people don't buy from them.

  8. Winkypop Silver badge


    I've heard of it.

  9. Michael Thibault

    Fine print

    Define "enhanced".


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fine print

      it's a bit like "New Recipe" same outcome, just less content.

  10. Buster

    You need to go back to the 30's

    According to this:

    As early as the 30's radio manufacturers in the US saw TV as a way of selling families to advertisers. They sold the concept of Public Benefit to legislators who were then convinced that broadcast TV with programs interrupting the advertising stream would be a good thing. Well as least they paid for and created the content from the advertising income.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. VulcanV5

    . . . but advertisers DON'T want Facebook users, Mr Zuck

    Advertising works like this:

    You are a producer. You have a product. You want people to buy it. You haven't a clue how to go about it so you advertise yourself for an advertisement agency. Half a dozen agencies make a pitch for your -- let's say -- $5 million-advertising-spend-a-year business. The agencies want that account because they know they can buy air-time or print media space a damn sight cheaper than ever you can, but you'll be billed at Rate Card anyway so won't know that 25% of the cost of that ad you paid for in last Sunday's paper or peak time TV commercial actually went straight into the agency's back pocket.

    So now you, Mr Producer, discover from your son and daughter that there's something called Facebook. It looks like total shite to you because that's exactly what it is but seeing as how someone somewhere was bright enough to dress it up with the pretentious -- and daft -- description of "Social Media" then maybe you'd better think about putting some money into it.

    You call in your ad agency. It tells you that the whole point of advertising is to ensure that if you are determined to open a butcher's shop, you don't do so in a village of vegetarians. Before you do anything else, you must define the nature of the audience which you as a producer would like to access.

    It tells you that, by way of example, the audience for a $multi-million ocean-going yacht ain't the same as the audience for a pay-by-installments course of Instant Weight Loss Diet Pills. Thus, the yacht will be advertised in the guest magazines of hotel groups like Mandarin Oriental and Regency |International. The diet pills will be advertised in the Daily Star (UK) or National Enquirer (US.)

    Only an idiot would buy Instant Lose Weight Diet Pills. Only an idiot would buy the Daily Star or National Enquirer. The audience of potential customers has been defined; the audience of potential customers has been located. Job done.

    You, as the producer of the product, do not wish to access an audience of idiots because it is an established fact that the disposable income levels of idiots are considerably lower than those of individuals of greater education and greater discernment. (Politicians excluded.)

    You ask your ad agency to characterize the Facebook audience. Your agency says it is largely composed of idiots unable to protect themselves from being exploited -- which means that yes, they'll see your ads, but can't afford to buy what you're selling -- and a significantly smaller number of non-idiots who, being bright enough to protect their own best interests, won't see your ads even though they can afford to buy what you're selling.

    On which basis: your agency advises that Facebook ain't worth a cent of your money. And thus does General Motors cancel its FB advertising spend, and thus do hundreds of other majors and their ad agencies fall about laughing every time an increasingly desperate FB sales team makes contact to talk about likes and hits but never, ever, about sales conversions. Just: put your ad spend with us and your client will soon be liked by 1 million idiots. Oh my yes.

    Mr Zuck can dumb down his T & C spiel for his already dumbed-down audience all he wants. But going from dumb to dumber still doesn't make his business model any the more appealing, nor assure Facebook of a life that much longer than that of a hula hoop: there is, after all, only so much money to be made out of the purveyors of Instant Weight Loss Diet Pills.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: . . . but advertisers DON'T want Facebook users, Mr Zuck

      Spot on, and the shysters even managed to con gullible idiots of the $50 billion price tag on this pile of poo.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: . . . but advertisers DON'T want Facebook users, Mr Zuck

      Most of the world's economies rely on the stupid.

      If it didn't:

      Ik*a would close as customers went to buy slightly more expensive furniture that will last 20+ years instead of paying £9.99 for a cupboard with wobbly doors a child could put their fist through.

      Millions of fast food and instant meal companies would close as parents realised that spending a little extra time cooking a decent and exciting meal was worth the 20 or so years and extra vitality it brought their children.

      China would drown in a sea of plastic tatt as people realised they don't need a broken USB robotic penguin desk lamp with HD camera that stamps all the videos 01/01/2004.

      There would be no concept of Nouveau Riche, banks would collapse as they suddenly had to pay interest on savings not reap interest on o/d and credit cards.

      Governments would have too few votes to claim a mandate of the people.

      There would be no estate agents.

  13. Jonathan Richards 1

    Legalese kinda like program code

    Yup. So I diff'd the old terms and the proposed update.

    The proposed update includes a new condition for users to follow the Promotions Guidelines and applicable laws; a few examples of the trademarks you are not permitted to use outside Guidelines [1]; a big chunk of new terms which apply if you are a developer or operator of a Platform application or website on Facebook; an expanded set of "Special Provisions Applicable to Advertisers"; a derogation in some circumstances from the commitment to give 7 days notice of changes to T&C; and the bland statement giving FB permission to use content and information is replaced by a reference to a Data Use Policy.

    Apart from that it's largely tidying up spelling and grammar.

    [1] "Facebook, the Facebook and F Logos, FB, Face, Poke, Book and Wall"

  14. Mike Wilson

    With those terms...

    Why would anyone in their right mind have a Facebook account?

    1. Peter Simpson 1
      Thumb Up

      Re: With those terms...

      Why would anyone in their right mind have a Facebook account?

      And if they did, why would they enter accurate information for DOB, location, etc?

      // I attended "Other College or University Name", in Sydney AUS.

      1. John Tserkezis

        Re: With those terms...

        "// I attended "Other College or University Name", in Sydney AUS."

        Hey! I went there!

  15. Gannon (J.) Dick

    "WE'LL SELL YOU LIKE A PIG at a fair"

    I read the whole article out of respect for the genius of El Reg, I think, or maybe it's past noon on Friday and I'm drunk already.

    After careful reading, I was unable to decern any nuances in the narrative which might lead me to believe the title did not say it all.

    We need an separate Icon, for morning reading.

  16. Stevie


    Dear me, I would have expected a journalist to understand that there is no requirement that "plain English" be in any way ambiguous.

    In fact, it has been my experience that High Legalese is pretty much designed to obfuscate and phrase ambiguity upon ambiguity with the utmost ease.

    Or haven't you read a software EULA?

    The fact that lawyers, when assured of an audience, lose the capacity to phrase anything in unambiguous language (or even grammatical English) does not make dense polysyllabic gibberish a requirement of the process of drawing up a legal document.

    Only the need for weasel clauses requires that sort of nonsense. Otherwise, all software vendors would have to write "although you paid a lot of money for the privilege of using our product, we do not promise that it can do what we say it can in any way, shape or form and you, by buying it, have agreed that you will not hold our feet to the fire if it doesn't". Much better to drone on about parties of the first part and non-transferable n-seat license privileges until the reader's eyeballs have shriveled up.

  17. raving angry loony

    Optional solution.

    My solution is "don't use Facebook". So far that's worked for me. The original solution was "just give them fake info". Which also worked, but I was spending too much time on it, so I went with the new solution.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But in practice it's more amusing than you'd think.

    I don't like the idea at all, but in practice social marketing often has amusing results.

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