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Facebook tries to calm fears over Home privacy

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Social network giant Facebook has released a Q&A in an attempt to quell some of the concerns over the privacy implications of Facebook Home, its new Android skin.

Facebook Home was launched at a much-anticipated event last week and is the company's latest attempt to improve its mobile offering. It is not a full Facebook phone, as some analysts were expecting, nor is it just an app. Essentially it is a wraparound or skin for the Android operating system that will make Facebook more deeply integrated with the mobile device.

However, some critics have expressed concerns about how much extra data Facebook will collect through Home and what it will subsequently do with it.

Now Facebook has responded to that criticism by saying Home will not collect data any differently from how its current apps do, nor does it alter any privacy settings.

“Home doesn't change anything related to your privacy settings on Facebook, and your privacy controls work the same with Home as they do everywhere else on Facebook,” Michael Richter and Erin Egan, Facebook privacy officers, wrote.

“Like other parts of Facebook, Home collects information when you interact with the service, such as liking or commenting on a post or sending a message. Home also may collect other information about how you use it,” they said.

One of the biggest concerns expressed about Home was that it would collect user data from other, non-Facebook apps. However Richter and Egan dismissed those claims. “Home will only see how you interact with Home itself. For example, Facebook could see that you launched a map application using the app launcher, but Facebook would not receive information about what directions you searched for or any other activity within the app itself,” they said.

“Of course, some apps already are Facebook-enabled so that you can share your activity within the app back to Facebook. This kind of integration existed long before we launched Home, and apps that have it will tell you if it is available,” the Q&A added.

Facebook also addressed concerns specifically related to location, saying that Home does not use the phone's location services “in any way that's different from the Facebook app you already have on your Android phone.”

Facebook is no stranger to privacy controversy and has been criticised for the amount of data it collects about its users and the frequent changes it makes to its various privacy policies.

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