Privacy Policy Changes: Facebook Could Learn from Groupon

Lora Bentley
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Top 10 Privacy Issues for 2011

Social media and location-based technologies top the list of concerns.

Perhaps in preparation for an expected initial public offering, daily-deals provider Groupon announced changes to its privacy policies over the weekend. ReadWriteWeb reports the Chicago-based company notified its 83 million-plus subscribers that it has made changes to improve readability and improve its transparency regarding what information is collected and how that information can be used.


According to a company summary statement, the changes include, among other things, an expanded definition of personal information to include "any information that could be used to identify, locate or contact an individual." The updated policy also clarifies that Groupon now collects mobile location data and will share that data with third parties if subscribers authorize such sharing.


Writer Dan Rowinski says it all boils down to this:

Essentially, Groupon is collecting more information from its users from a variety of sources and sharing it with more outlets.

He goes on to explain how the aggressive use of subscriber information will impact the advertising industry, noting "Groupon is the biggest thing to happen to advertising since Google." Because the service is controversial, he says, "It's only a matter of time" before federal regulators are looking deeper into how Groupon and its daily-deals competitors really work.


On the privacy front, however, I think Groupon is a step ahead of Facebook and some of the other social-media-based companies, simply because it let subscribers know beforehand that changes were coming. On top of that, Groupon isn't making those subscribers opt out of sharing information. Groupon subscribers must opt in if they are willing to allow Groupon to share their information with third parties.

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