Does Your Social Media Need A Privacy Policy?

I recently decided that it was high time I played it safe and wrote a privacy policy for one of my large social media pages which has in excess of 200,000 fans. A privacy policy is commonplace on most websites and tells users how their information will be used by the corporation. Importantly, the privacy policy is a legal issue because grabbing client data and saving it, without telling them you will grab it and save it, is  unlawful! So that brings me to my question……  does your social media need a privacy policy?

Why Your Social Media Page Needs A Privacy Policy

Your social media page may not need a privacy policy at all, it depends entirely on what you plan to do with it. Facebook, Twitter and other social sites do not insist on privacy policies but then any legal fall out from not having one will be between you and the client and you might end up on the wrong side of the law. If you are collecting, retaining or using any data resulting from your Facebook page then I would play it safe and make a policy. If you are simply posting photos, updates and information and not gathering data then you don’t need to make one.

When You Need A Privacy Policy

If you are collecting any of the following information from your social pages then make a policy:

  • Name/ social profile name
  • Telephone number
  • Email address
  • Profile picture
  • Age/location/nationality/gender demographics
  • IP address
  • Behaviours & interests

What should be in your policy?

If you have an existing privacy policy on your website then check that it covers you for social media data. If it does then great, you can simply copy the privacy policy onto the relevant social media site. If you don’t have one then your new social media privacy policy should cover the following points:

  • PERSONAL INFORMATION – what information will you be collecting?
  • HOW YOU COLLECT IT – will you collect it via contests, apps, polls?
  • HOW WILL YOU USE IT – for research purposes, to add to your mailing list or something else
  • HOW YOU WILL DISCLOSE IT – Will you share the information with a third party?
  • HOW CONFIDENTIAL IS IT – Will you store the information in confidence and for how long?

This may seem like an overkill and it probably is if you are just happily running your Facebook page and not collecting data. If. However, like me you are collecting data from your social pages then you need it.

When should you use it?

There is little sense in adding a privacy policy to your Facebook notes or Twitter background because it won’t get read and doesn’t really apply to the majority. It only applies to the people whose data you will actually be taking. This is why I add my privacy policy into the terms and conditions of any social media contest I run via apps. It sits in there nicely and even better, participants must tick that they have read and accepted all terms and conditions before entering the contest. Therefore, you are completely covered!

Other questions such as “should you write the privacy policy yourself or do you need a lawyer” are really a judgement call. I used a company lawyer for mine but then my pages belong to large and responsible corporations who want to have all boxes correctly ticked. If your business is like this then write your privacy policy and have a lawyer approve it before you implement it.

It goes without saying that you should treat client data responsibly because your privacy policy will not cover you for unlawful usage, such as selling client data, should you be discovered.

I hope that you enjoyed my article, feel free to tweet me @charli_says with your views.