Book Price War Leads to Rationing

Walmart, Amazon and Target are limiting online sales of certain steeply discounted books, preventing small bookshops from taking advantage of a price war to stock their own shelves.

Facebook Retools Privacy Policy, Will Let Users Comment On Potential Ad Changes

Facebook is revamping its privacy policy, exchanging some of the legal jargon for plain, simple examples of how users can delete their profiles, how long “backup copies” of personal data get stored, and how some of their new data partnerships with companies like Nielsen might impact the ads users see. This follows the social net’s overhaul of users’ privacy settings this summer; the goal was to make them easier to use (though, I still haven’t received the homepage notice explaining how to use them that the company said it would be sending out to everyone).

Facebook has had to learn the hard way, that it’s best to be transparent when making major changes to its ad platform—particularly as it pertains to the use of member data—so it’s also serving up a portion of the new privacy policy for member review.

Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s VP of communications and public policy, explained that the company wants to offer advertisers better conversion tracking; this means the company will need to share more than just the thumbs up vs. thumbs down and standard click-through stats it currently offers advertisers. While the company will anonymize any user data it shares with advertisers, the new policy informs users that they can opt-out of being cookied.

Other changes include the notification that users who set their profiles as viewable to “Everyone” will have that data crawled by the search engines—this includes their wall posts and news feeds—likely as a result of the new data-sharing deal with Microsoft’s Bing. TechCrunch also highlights another change—that if users include location info in their status updates, that info will be subject to Facebook’s overall data-sharing policies. This means that if a user hasn’t restricted their profile to select viewers, their location info could be shared with location-aware apps and services in the future.


Facebook Awarded $711 Million Judgment Against Spammer

Facebook has won a second big judgment against a spammer. This time around, the social network has been awarded $711 million in damages against a man who used a phishing scheme to get access to user accounts and then sent out fake Wall posts and messages, according to Facebook’s PR team. Court records show the judgment is actually a bit of a letdown for the social network, which had initially asked a court for $7.5 billion in damages—a request the judge denied, saying it was not “proprortionate” to the man’s offense.

Nevertheless, if Facebook could collect, this type of lawsuit would still be a really big money maker for the company. Last November, a judge awarded Facebook $873 million in a separate spam case brought against a man who sent unwanted “sleazy” messages to Facebook users. Unsurprisingly, Facebook says it does not expect to receive all these millions. However, the company does say it’s “confident that today’s ruling will act as a powerful deterrent against those who would abuse Facebook and its users”—and it’s taking the opportunity to remind everybody about its efforts to combat spam.