SAN DIEGO, CALIF. (TheStreet) -- Facebook (FB) is alerting its entire 1.35 billion-member audience to upcoming changes in its terms of service, data policy, and cookies policy, all of which go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.
The company started sending both email and Facebook notifications to users on Friday, Nov. 21, and expects to complete the notification process this week, a spokesperson told TheStreet. The policy changes, which also cover Facebook services such as Messenger and Internet.org, were first proposed on November 13 and made available for public comment. The final versions will be identical to what was originally proposed, the spokesperson said.
Most ostensibly, Facebook has overhauled the policy documents in look, feel, and language by reducing legalese and introducing interactive guides designed to help members better understand what data the company collects and how their data is used.
The new Privacy Basics page, for instance, asserts that "you're in charge" and attempts to simplify the process of managing your personal privacy settings by walking you through how to adjust what information friends and friends of friends see about you, how others interact with you through features such as tagging and Timeline posts, and what ads and News Feed content you see.
"The updates to our policies reflect the new products we've been working on to improve your Facebook experience," Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan wrote when the changes were announced. "They also explain how our services work in a way that's easier to understand."
With the alterations, the social network has promised that nothing has changed in regards to what information it shares with advertisers, though there is new language around what purchase and location information Facebook collects.
As to the latter, the company now explains that it uses GPS, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi signals to determine your device's location, and that any location data it collects is, per the policy, meant "to tailor our Services for you and others, like helping you to check-in and find local events or offers in your area or tell your friends that you are nearby."
On the payments front, Facebook's revised data policy language makes extra allowances for transactional data such as data collected through its "Buy" button initiative, which lets members click to purchase products directly from stories in New Feed. With any purchase, Facebook collects, "credit or debit card number and other card information, and other account and authentication information, as well as billing, shipping and contact details," the policy states.
As alluded to in Egan's statement, the policies apply to all Facebook services including new mobile apps such as the Snapchat-like Slingshot app, the pseudo anonymous app Rooms, and the standalone Groups app. Facebook-owned properties WhatsApp and Instagram, however, will continue to be governed by their own terms of services.
The new terms of service take effect on Jan. 1. Thus far, the social network appears to have side-stepped the typical backlash associated with any change to its service.