Facebook on Thursday announced its brand new Android initiative, Facebook Home, a user interface filled with custom Facebook apps that take over the lock and home screens. But what about Home privacy?
We have already shown you all the features of Home and the HTC First handset that will come with Home preloaded (it’s actually the first Android smartphone to pack it,) and we have shared with you our opinions on Home.
But it’s only now that we can offer you more details about the privacy settings in Home, a day after the company announced the new product.
Facebook is still to regain the complete trust of its users, after the various privacy-infringing actions it took over the years. So, naturally, privacy is an important matter when looking at Home. And one would think that the company would address such concerns right off the bat, but Facebook didn’t do during or after the event.
In a blog post on Friday, Facebook answered some questions regarding Home and privacy:
Home doesn’t change anything related to your privacy settings on Facebook, and your privacy controls work the same with Home as they do everywhere else on Facebook.
The company said that users won’t have to install Home on their Android device to use Facebook. Home is optional, and the Facebook for Android app will work independently, so you won’t lose access to Facebook in case you don’t like Home.
Once installed, Home can be turned off from Home Settings. Alternatively, users can turn on the Home lock screen feature if they don’t want Facebook to take over the lock screen as well. While it’s not specifically mentioning HTC First, Facebook does seem to say that you can use the handset without Home on it.
As for location services, Home doesn’t collect location data “in anyway that’s different from the Facebook app” for Android, and location services can be turned off whenever you want from the phone’s settings.
What’s more interesting for Android handset users is the kind of information Home collects, including data from non-Facebook applications. Here’s what Facebook had to say about its Home data collection practices:
Q: What information does Home collect?
A: 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. We store 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. We remove identifying information from this data after 90 days.
Q: Does Home collect information about what I do in non-Facebook applications?
A: No. Home will only see how you interact with Home itself. 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. This kind of integration existed long before we launched Home, and apps that have it will tell you if it is available.
What do you think about Facebook’s Home and privacy? Do you trust the social network with your data?