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PrivacyWatch checks Facebook policy so you don't have to

A new, low-cost service keeps tabs on Facebook privacy policy, and lets you know when it changes.


Facebook's Data Use Policy is more than 7,000 words long, making it a daunting challenge to stay on top of how the company manages data you share with it. Online privacy company Abine wants to simplify that task for you with its new PrivacyWatch service, unveiled today.

For $1.99 per month, PrivacyWatch will warn you whenever Facebook changes its policy. The service will recommend changes on how to keep your information private in accordance with any policy changes. The service comes days before Facebook's IPO is expected.

"PrivacyWatch says, 'Hey, this specific thing has changed, here's what we believe the implications could be for your privacy and personal data, and here are easy-to-follow steps for exactly how to mitigate that,' wrote Sarah Downey, online privacy analyst at Abine, in an instant message conversation with me.

The service sends you an e-mail bi-weekly with Facebook privacy tips, so it's useful even when there haven't been any policy changes. Downey said that 85 percent of Facebook's revenue in 2011 came from advertising. "That requires them to collect more usable personal information and make that information available to advertisers," she wrote. Abine has made a Facebook privacy policy infographic that tracks the history of the company's privacy policies, reproduced below, and a "Facebook Val-You calculator," for estimating your personal data's worth to Facebook.

Downey also noted that five percent of each new subscription between now and June 1 will be donated to the National Network for Domestic Violence.

Abine's history of privacy policy on Facebook infographic. (Click to see the full image.) Abine