Privacy questions over Facebook ‘Home’ for Android

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the social network's new "home" software for Android phones this week, but critics say the new feature could "destroy" privacy.

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The new software takes over the lock screen on Android devices on which it is installed, in effect making Facebook the phone's main screen and turning it into a live feed for information, notifications and images shared by users.

Analysts and industry watchers claim that the detailed data that could be mined from users, intruding on their private lives.

Zuckerberg claimed that that Home puts people, not apps, at the heart of the mobile experience, but the critics say that it merely helps the network to sell an increasing volume of targeted advertising by gathering user data that would otherwise be difficult to find.

In response, Facebook has said that users can continue to access the social network on their handsets the same way they currently do, and that the use of Home is not compulsory. Users who do opt to use the service can turn it off at any time under 'Settings or remove it from the lock screen, they say. Regarding the data gathered, Facebook says that it collects data on how users use the service, such as apps placed in the Home launcher. It also mines information about how the app is interacted with, such as commenting and liking. On pre-installed devices, Home will display notifications and Facebook collects certain information from the notification, with the exception of its content. This data is stored for 90 days, after which point indentifying information is removed.

Facebook also says that Home does not gather data about other applications and how they are used. And location information is used the same way the regular Facebook app uses it, and can be disabled by the user.

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