social media reviewsDid you know new changes are coming to Facebook as of January 1, 2015?

Want to know what it all means to marketers?

If you’re like most people, you won’t want to sit down and compare line-by-line to find out the exact changes. That’s why we’ve done it for you.

In this article I’ll share the information you need to know about Facebook’s new terms and how the changes may impact how you use Facebook.

new facebook terms of service

Find out what’s new in Facebook’s terms of service.

Listen to this article:

You can also subscribe via RSS, Stitcher and iTunes. How to subscribe/review on iPhone.

Changes Again! Why?

There are some misconceptions about what has actually changed with these updates when Facebook released their initial announcement in late November. Many people thought Facebook would be getting more invasive with their tracking and data collection, but I don’t see that reflected in the new terms.

comparison of old and new facebook terms

We’ve done a line-by-line comparison.

Make sure you know what’s relevant to you and review the terms yourself. This article is not intended to be legal advice; it’s a summary of the changes as we have researched them. It’s always a good idea to review your all of your social media privacy settings regularly.

What Hasn’t Changed

Most of the policies are still the same. Looking at the terms of service line by line, some of the notable things that are staying exactly the same include:

  • Sharing Your Content and Information
  • Safety
  • Registration and Account Security
  • Protecting Other People’s Rights
  • Page Terms
  • Advertising Terms

The Terms of Service policy is much shorter than it used to be. Some sections have been condensed into other areas such as the terms for app developers.

Summary of the Biggest Changes

1. Privacy Basics help you understand your privacy better 

The biggest change I see is the attempt by Facebook to make their terms easier to understand and clearer. They have rolled out Privacy Basics to show you what others see about you, how others interact with you and what you see.

facebook privacy basics

Privacy Basics makes understanding how you show up on Facebook easier.

2. Facebook services are now explicitly covered by the terms

Services include the mobile app, Messenger app, Paper, Rooms, Page Manager, Audience Insights and other Facebook products. They may have supplemental terms or their own separate privacy policies (like Atlas and Instagram). The cross-connection with their services will also allow you to use your Facebook information to recover your password for Instagram, as an example.

3. In the Cookies Policy section Facebook has changed the description

Facebook may use cookies to include the mention of enabling service providers to help you buy things using Facebook on your mobile phone.

So the provider may use a pixel to collect information about your phone so if you choose, it can help Facebook bill you through your regular phone bill. This is a change to the tracking cookies, but you’re only affected if you choose to buy things with your phone.

4. In the new Data Policy Facebook explicitly mentions that they are collecting device location information about you by using GPS, Bluetooth or WiFi signals

This change has seemingly caused the biggest stir. People are interpreting this to be a big change, but it really isn’t.

This is really not a new policy. Facebook was doing this with the previous policy as well, but they didn’t spell out “Bluetooth” or “WiFi” explicitly. They only mention GPS or “other location information.” Facebook collects this information so they can show location-based advertising or let you know about nearby friends. Facebook rolled out the opt in–only Nearby Friends feature in April 2014.

Remember that you can turn off GPS, Bluetooth and WiFi on your device.

Recent Changes You May Have Missed

You may have missed some of the recent privacy and term changes that are being implemented by Facebook. One of the most exciting is the added control over the Facebook ads you’re served.

1. More control over Facebook ads

Facebook makes their money through advertising, which keeps the service free for users. Remember the old saying, “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.” So while you can’t opt out of all advertisements, you can control what you see to make it more relevant for you.

When you see an ad in your news feed, you have the option to hide all ads from that advertiser. Again, you can’t opt out of all advertisements, but if you find some ads extra-annoying, this is a step you can take.

facebook ad

You can hide all ads from a particular advertiser or find out why you’re seeing that ad.

If you select Why am I seeing this?, you get a pop-up box that explains why you might be seeing it and gives you a chance to modify your ad preferences.

facebook ad preferences

You can find out more information about why you’re seeing an ad.

Interestingly enough, there is no way to get to your Facebook ad preferences directly; you must do it from an ad. Once you select Manage Ad Preferences, you see a list of all of the interests and page likes that contribute to Facebook’s ad targeting. Select the category and see what types of interests are there for you.

facebook ad preference categories

Your Facebook ad preferences are listed by category.

When you open up each category, the interests get more specific. Some show up because of specific page likes and others are more general.

delete facebook ad preference categories

Dig into your specific ad preferences and delete any that aren’t relevant.

If you were to delete all of these ad preferences (which would be a lot of work in my opinion), you would still have your basic demographics that Facebook would use for advertising: age, gender, location, etc.

Facebook specifically mentions in their video in the top right corner of this page that removing these preferences will not reduce the number of ads you see. You’d likely rather see ads that were at least a little more relevant to your interests anyway.

If you’re interested in learning more about Facebook tracking, take a look at What You Can Do About Facebook Tracking, which is a great overview of some other steps you can take.

2. Opt out of having ads targeted to you based on your activity off of Facebook

Another more recent change is the ability to opt out of having Facebook or other companies collect or use information based on your activity on websites or apps.

You can opt out of all participating companies through the Digital Advertising Alliance (USA), the Digital Advertising Alliance of Canada or the European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance. You can also opt out using your mobile device settings.

data collection opt out

You can opt out of having companies track your website activity on your browser.

A couple of important things to remember if you do this: the preferences are browser-specific so if you use multiple browsers, you need to opt out for each browser. And if you delete browser cookies, you may remove your preferences, so you may need to repeat the process.

3. Facebook Privacy Checkup

I haven’t seen this feature yet on my own Facebook account, but it was announced in May 2014 and Facebook began rollout in September 2014. The idea is to give you quick reviews to make sure you understand how you’re sharing things on Facebook.

facebook privacy checkup

Privacy Checkup helps you know how you’re sharing things on Facebook.

One of my favorite ways to control how I share things is to use Facebook’s Friends Lists feature.

4. Facebook Messenger app privacy requirements

One of the recent hullabaloos was over the Facebook Messenger app and the privacy requirements you had to accept to use Messenger. The most notable requirements were things like “call phone numbers without your permission” and “use the microphone to record audio.” The issue is in the language the Android iOS requires. Facebook directly responded to these issues in a Help article about their Messenger App permissions for Android.

One of the new benefits of the Messenger app is that you can call any of your Facebook friends for free anywhere in the world (data rates apply), as we noted in a recent Hot Tip on Social Media Examiner’s page.


This feature sparked some of the language in the Android permissions.

Key websites for all Facebook Policies:

New Facebook Terms:

New Facebook Cookie Policy:

New Facebook Privacy:

Central location for Terms and Policies:

Platform Policy (updated November 5, 2014)

Facebook Ad Terms (updated June 4, 2014):

Page Terms (updated July 14, 2014):

Facebook Community Standards:

If you have issues with the Data Use Policy – use this contact form:


The changes in Facebook’s Terms and Privacy Policies are not major. Facebook is doing a better job at communicating these changes and increasing the transparency of how they use your data.

What do you think about Facebook’s terms? Do you regularly review your privacy settings? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Get Social Media Examiner’s Future Articles in Your Inbox!

Join 465,000+ of your peers! Get our latest articles delivered to your email inbox and get the FREE Social Media Marketing Industry Report (56 pages, 90 charts)!

More info...
  • Wow! This is a phenominal post! Thank you so much for explaining the details of the changes. I get so frustrated when I hear people talk about how devious Facebook is and all the information they’re stealing from you. I try to help these people understand, however, it’s hard to explain, without a legal education, exactly how these theories are wrong.

    The “devious” things that Facebook is doing is nothing new and they’re not the only ones doing it. Google and the entire online world does the same things, they just don’t tell you about it. So why people get so hyped up about it is beyond me!

    Again, amazing post and thank you so much for explaining this!!

  • Woo, great summary Andrea! I was hoping someone would do it because there were so many updates at all levels – businesses, advertisers, and users. Thanks and I’ll share this with my friends.

  • Thanks so much Kelsey – yes I’ve seen a lot of “inflammatory” posts about Facebook privacy and it really helps to review things line-by-line to find out exactly what is new.

  • Thanks so much Jason!

  • Andrea,

    Thanks for doing the hard part. People (including me) try to avoid long and lengthy details of such type. Being a Blogger I know ‘Providing Solutions’ to the audience means a lot.

    Thanks again!

  • Appreciate such a clear post regarding the “Changes”. I still cannot understand the position so many have regarding “Privacy”. Being more private is easy to accomplish, stay off of Social Media and the Internet totally.

  • Thanks Monica!

  • Glad to help Hassaan – yes these changes can be tedious to review so we are glad to be of service!

  • Very true – but there definitely can be a of “peer pressure” to be on social media sometimes 🙂

  • Lotsa hard work went into this post, @andreavahl:disqus – well done, superstar!!! 😉

  • Ken

    This was a lot of help. I have been reading the new policies and found them to be more like reading state and federal law. Attorneys obviously write these thing to protect the client as well as the consumer. But, WOW, by time you are don’t reading them you’re not sure what is what.
    You get the idea that you can share content on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of the first or third week. Then Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday on the second and fourth week. But, only if the month starts on Monday. The policies change with the full moon during a lunar eclipse in the summer.
    This post made things a little more clear.

    Thank You..

  • viviloveith

    Great post! I have to laugh though that there is no way to share this post on Facebook via the floating social share bar. (WP Socializer plugin?)

  • Another impressive blog by @socialmediaexaminer. Thanks these updates.

  • Hi Viviloveith – It must just be on your end because I can clearly see that Facebook share button and that 1700 people have shared it on Facebook

  • Interesting. This time the Social Bar fully loaded. Buffer and FB were both missing before. Hmmm. First time I have seen that happen. I use the plugin on one of my sites too.

  • Really nice post, I already remember about control over facebook ads only.

  • Aww thanks @MariSmith:disqus! You rock yourself and thanks for the shoutout in your weekly e-mail – love your weekly summaries – so valuable!

  • So glad to help – I know what you mean – lots of legal-ease to sift through!

  • Glad you enjoyed it James!

  • Thanks! It is nice to get the reminder of some of the controls we do have – it’s easy to forget about them.

  • Ray Marshall

    Great post. Very helpful. This clears up much of the confusion about the changes to terms of use.

  • Hamid Fathi

    Wow, that’s a fabulous and a hard work! thank you so much for the information you provided many people with. these peppy who don’t know or don’t pay attention to such alterations. This report will clarify many things for social media specialists and their customers. Regards.

  • Aisha

    Thank you.

  • Thank you so much for this, Andrea! Misconceptions galore with so many people because they don’t do the research themselves — IE READ the terms for themselves instead of banking on what others are saying. Egads! Totally passing this on! You rock … as always!!!

  • Great info, thanks for the summary and very useful screenshots! I find this one very interesting: More control over Facebook ads
. I’d love some insights on the new ads policy from the perspective of someone who is actually creating/placing ads

  • Ryco56x

    If one doesn’t want to see so many ads in the first place I would recommend installing “Facebook Purity” which one can find on Google. Also “AdBlock.” Both are free.

  • Henrietta Brice

    Did I miss something hidden somewhere? There is no mention of “What Marketers Need to Know” about the changes. None of these changes matter to marketers, do they? Maybe I’m just too dopey to get it but I just don’t get what the Title has to do with the information in the article which should be …”What USERS Need to Know” or not? I don’t know. Can you explain? Thanks

  • Seriously Facebook, i don’t mind about the ads that show up on my feed, what i care is the relevancy. We want a targeted ads, not junk that came out of nowhere..

    Maybe Facebook should focusing on delivering ads to more targeted audience, that’s the change i needed most..

    Thanks for the article btw 🙂

  • Berlin Yeh


    Thanks for your sharing!!

  • Thank you so much Andrea for putting this all together.
    I try to keep up with the changes, but it is quite the task! Here you made it so easy for us to understand and I appreciate that. This is not only great for me but for all those I know. It is a great share!


  • Shinyi Tai

    This week I realised that I can’t “like” another business pages using my business page. Is this new or a bug? I found that I can only like the posts in the particular business page using my business page by clicking on the small flag in the comment box.

  • Button

    What feels more invasive is the search bar in Facebook and the way contacts can quickly and specifically search through your old posts.

  • that’s a great info about Facebook latest updates, thanks for sharing~

  • Aakaram Smo

    Thanks so much…

  • #MoneyChatLive

    Don’t like that people can call you randomly using messenger at all. Actually had someone use this to call me late at night. I may discontinue using it. Great post, added videos to my fan page and opted-out of advertising thanks to you!

  • #MoneyChatLive

    Don’t like that people can call you randomly using messenger at all. Actually had someone use this to call me late at night. I may discontinue using it. Great post, added videos to my fan page and opted-out of advertising thanks to you!