Facebook's announcement of the latest iteration of its service for Android smartphones, Home, has been one of the most anticipated ones in recent times. Amidst user reactions to what they thought of Home, Facebook reportedly received a few queries about privacy on Home, prompting Michael Richter and Erin Egan to pen a detailed blog post.
Right at the outset, both Richter and Egan clarify that Home “doesn't change anything related to your privacy settings on Facebook”. They went on to clarify further that privacy controls of a user work in the same way with Home as they do elsewhere on Facebook.
While stating that Home is a new way to experience the social networking platform, the post makes it clear that users get to the service, unless they choose to – by downloading it from the Play store or by purchasing a phone with Home pre-installed. Implying that they do not have to use Home to access Facebook on their Android devices.
Facebook Home is a complete overhaul of the Android UI
Additionally, once a user installs Home on his Android device, he doesn't necessarily have to continue using it. Users can turn off Home in their Home Settings. Alternatively, if a user likes Home, but doesn't want to show up as their lockscreen, there is an option for that too.
Importantly, the post goes on to add that Home collects information when users interact with the service, i.e. when they like or comment on a post, send a message. Home may also collect other details about how a user uses it. The post explains this by stating that Facebook has a list of apps that a user has in the Home app launcher.
As for devices that come preinstalled with Home, the service can display notifications from apps on the phone. Facebook explains that since these notifications appear in Home, they collect information about the notifications, like which app is generating them, and not the content of the notification. Facebook confirmed that it removes identifying information from this data after 90 days.
As far as the service's location collecting abilities go, Facebook clarifies that it does not use the location any differently from the Facebook app that users already have on their Android phones. Importantly, it is possible to control the location permission in the phone's settings.
The HTC First will be the first phone to run Facebook Home out of the box
The post also answers a question on how Home treats information about what users do in non-Facebook applications. Turns out, Home doesn't collect information about user activity within non-Facebook applications. Home, according to the post only views how a user interacts with Home itself. It explains it thus, “We store this information in identifiable form for 90 days and use it to provide the service and improve how it works.” That apart, there are some apps that are Facebook-enabled, i.e. the ones that allow users to share the within-the-app activity on Facebook.
For those still not in the know, Facebook Home is a replacement for the Android UI and puts more emphasis on people rather than apps. It will be available on only flagship devices at first—HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung GALAXY S III and Samsung GALAXY Note II—and will be on Google Play from April 12. The tablet version of Facebook Home is still under development and will take some time to be launched.
On unlocking your device, you will be greeted by the cover feed that replaces the lockscreen and homescreen. It basically shows you your Facebook news feed and lets you comment on, or like posts right from there. You can swipe sideways to look at other stories in your feed.
Another major feature of Facebook Home is chat heads. These are tiny circles that let you access a chat from anywhere. You can pin people on your screen and chat with them whenever you want. It can be accessed from different apps, or even games. You can even move chat heads around and respond to messages. And since SMS is integrated into Facebook Messenger for Android, chat heads include Facebook messages as well as texts.
You’ll get notifications straight to your homescreen, like when a friend posts on your timeline. You can just tap on the notification to check it out, and swipe them away to hide them.
Don’t worry though, your apps aren’t going anywhere. To access your apps, you can just swipe up from the cover feed where you will be greeted by an internal homescreen of sorts. Here, you can set up shortcuts to any app you want. To access the full list of apps that you have installed, you can swipe to the right.
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