Section 508

April 22nd, 2013

Facebook Home privacy issues

Should users of the new Facebook Home App be concerned about infringements of their privacy rights?

Facebook is often at the centre of Privacy advocates’ debates. It was only a few months ago that Facebook unveiled its Graph Search which already created a controversy around Privacy issues. And with Home, unveiled on the 4th April, Facebook is testing the limits of Privacy.

Although Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised at the launch that the software will not invade user’s privacy, the concern remains.

How does Home work?

Facebook Home software is essentially a wrapper that sits on top of the Android operating system. Home will automatically show updates on home screen and lock screen. Users will be able to double-tap to like and there will also be an emphasis on Messaging app, called Chat Heads, which combines SMS and Facebook messages. Home also contains an App drawer that shows users’ favourite apps.

What information will Facebook Home be able to find out about you compared to the current Facebook app?

See the comparative table below to learn what information is collected by Facebook.

Facebook App

Facebook Home

Facebook Home preinstalled in your device

Location tracking Yes, Tracking Yes, Tracking(can be turned off from phone settings) Yes, Tracking(can be turned off from phone settings)
Personal data(Name, address…) All All All
Which app you use? No Yes(maintains a list of the apps that you have in the Home app launcher) Yes(maintains a list of the apps that you have in the Home app launcher)
Which notification you receive from your no Facebook apps? No No Yes(Information about the notification (such as which app is generating them) but not the content of the notification itself. Identifying information is removed from this data after 90 days)
All info concerning your interaction with Facebook (like, click on ads, comments, messages…) Yes Yes Yes
Other information on how you use Facebook services Yes Yes Yes


You will also find interesting the following blog post from Facebook:

Does Facebook Home raise new privacy issues other than those already raised by the current Facebook app?

There are no new privacy issues in the sense that Facebook is already using its users’ information without giving the user knowledge of exactly what information is being collected, as well as denying control over the users’ own information once collected.

However, Home will collect even more information that it already does, as outlined on the table above.

What should Facebook attitude be towards Privacy of its users?

As a lawyer, I would improve transparency by giving users the right to know which information Facebook collects and what is actually done with users’ info. Users should also have more control over what users’ information Facebook can or cannot use.

Facebook should also tend towards a privacy policy that is simple and easy to understand, and should give more access to users to control the information they collect.

So what?

We cannot really say at this moment in time if Facebook Home will bring any infringements of the privacy of its users. However, we must keep in mind that the more information is shared, the bigger is the possibility to have privacy issues. It appears that as we are heading towards the world of Big Data, data sharing is increasingly inevitable.


Agathe Caffier

Legal Adviser @ DMI

Tags: mobile apps privacy

Connect with us

Job Openings

Want to be part of our growing team?

View More
Work with us

Learn how DMI can help you grow, or launch your business.

Get In Touch

See all of our locations around the world

View Locations