By Larry Magid

SAN FRANCISO (KCBS)—If you are a Facebook user, you may have notices a message in your inbox announcing the company’s new privacy settings.

The notice takes you to a page that explains that they are trying to clarify their privacy policies. Some of these are changes but most of it’s just clarifications of what already exists.

Facebook is frequently criticized for having confusing privacy polices and frankly, they still are, though they are described using more plain English this time. Essentially they are stating that if you give them information, they can use it.

They can use for that information for advertising, service improvements or to give you suggestions. Though they can share things with advertisers, they state that it’s “anonymously” shared with third parties, so it won’t be information that has your name in it.

They also state that they may have future services that they offer so that they can cover themselves when they update their privacy policies. I don’t see a lot of technical changes.

Part of this is in response to a recent court settlement in which they had to pay $20 million and agree to some changes regarding using people’s names in what’s called sponsored stories. They now have to make it clear to people that when they “like” something, that information can be shared with the public or their friends.

They also have to make it clear on how to use the privacy tools that already exist. For example, you can create an audience for your post so it can be shared with the public, your friends, or a group of selected friends. While that’s been in effect for sometime, they are trying to be more clear about it.

Facebook doesn’t want to be seen as hiding their policies but the fact remains that they have a lot of information about their users: they have your phone number if you’re on mobile, the IP address of your PC and they probably know your location.

So if you give Facebook that information, they are probably going to use it.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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