Shalom Life | March 02, 2014

Facebook Charity's Usage of Private Information 'Standard'

Mark Zuckerberg's non-profit Code.org program denies alternative purposes to collecting data

By: Zak Edwards

Published: December 4th, 2013 in Business » World

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg came under fire last week for how his newest charity, Code, is using the information of the people it benefits. The program was founded this year to help students learn computer science that schools may be unable to provide, such as JavaScript and app programming.

Gawker discovered last week that Code’s privacy policy allowed the charity to hold onto and give private information to third parties, and that Code can withhold services to people who refuse or limit the information they make available.

According to an email to Shalom Life from Code executive Haley Sonneland, these accusations are sensationalist and the data collection is necessary for Code’s success. “Education nonprofits are always beholden to evaluation,” Sonneland said, “in order to prove their results, and 3rd party evaluators require access to longitudinal student data over time.”

Code’s privacy policy doesn’t specify who will receive this information, but it may include “name, address, and phone numbers; content of communications with [Code], including e-mails; personal description and photographs.” Whether this information will be sold to companies and not simply provided to evaluative third parties is not explicitly mentioned either, which can raise alarms for the more discerning.

The privacy policy also states, “You can choose not to provide certain information, but then you may be prevented from using some or all of our services,” effectively threatening students with compliance or removal from the program.

Considering Mark Zuckerberg's distaste for sharing private information - he's called out the American government for doing so twice this year - one would like to assume that Code's privacy policies are legit.

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