Here’s what Facebook lets you do with your data

Facebook’s information policies are well-known to those who work in the space, so much so that the internet-famous Facebook user Christopher Poole, also known as Moot, is a member of the company’s user review team, and spent some time publishing the results from user surveys on popular Russian-language sites.

He recently uploaded the data he compiled from different country surveys to a database of people who don’t work in social media and go by the name Treadmill Internet (sometimes appropriately dubbed “The Internet’s Army”). The project involves gathering the results of user surveys, annotating them with analyst commentary, and then collating them to see what information users are provided with and how frequently Facebook makes changes to those standards.

When Facebook first started doing the surveys it showed that users responded positively to multiple privacy policies, which are at the centre of their privacy policy push-back. But now the company is the subject of an increasingly damaging New York Times investigation into how they treat users’ information.

Poole has now released the last results of a survey he did in July, which shows what information Facebook gives its users based on the country in which they live. It does not contain many surprises.

For example, if you live in the UK, Facebook’s ability to give you a personalized news feed and a tool that helps you see photos and information from your friends and family is “favourable” and “high-performing”. In the US and Canada, on the other hand, Facebook gives much less personalised content and has lower rate of personalisation.

Poole says that Facebook is “lower-performing” in 17 of the 31 countries he checked across Europe, US and Asia.

Across the board, Facebook users in the US are “favourable” to its privacy policy.

Its rate of deleting posts and photos is also fairly reasonable. In many countries it is described as “unfavourable” to how often Facebook cleans up notifications and filters out potentially sensitive content.

In the US, Facebook rated the clean-up rate “high-performing”.

There are some areas where Facebook varies in data hygiene slightly. (Disclaimer: I contributed to the version of this story that features the leaked Facebook document.) In Australia, its rate of sending notifications to users is rated “low-performing”.

It’s worth pointing out that these data are aggregated from user surveys, not from individual cases. And not all countries have survey surveys that have been done, so some countries and some users may have very different perceptions of Facebook’s quality as a result.

Facebook also has no intention of releasing data like this publicly. It’s widely believed that it maintains privileged rates of data analysis, and it is likely that users of services that it owns, like WhatsApp and Instagram, would be quite upset to see the company rate their privacy policies in particular.

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