How badly written is Facebook’s update about their new T&Cs?

Facebook T and Cs updateDid you see this Data Policy Notice when you last logged into Facebook? I read it, and cringed because it’s so badly written. I’ve had a go at rewording some of the worst bits. Please let me know what you think in the comments below. Thank you.

Headline before

Updating Our Terms and Policies: Helping You Understand How Facebook Works and How to Control Your Information

Too long. Too dull. Even though it uses the words You and Your more than Our, the tone of voice is too ‘top down’. Doesn’t accurately reflect the content of the update. Uses Camel Case (Initial Capitals) That Some People Find Harder to Read.

Headline after

New T&Cs from 1 Jan: Learn how to control your privacy settings, choose which (if any) ads you see, and get the best experience of Facebook.

I don’t know about you, but I’d definitely want to read that!

Intro before

Over the past year, we’ve introduced new features and controls to help you get more out of Facebook, and listened to people who have asked us to better explain how we get and use information…These updates take effect on January 1, 2015. As always, we welcome your feedback about our policies.

Too long. Not personal enough. Sounds as though it was written by lawyers.

Intro after

Facebook users have asked us to explain more clearly how we collect and use your information. We listened. Over the past year, we’ve introduced new features to give you more control. You can read about the main changes below. The updates launch on 1 January 2015. As always, we appreciate your feedback, so please let us know what you think.

Body copy before

I’ve just pulled out a few key phrases:

This information is available in 36 languages…Every day, people use our apps and services to connect with the people, places and things they care about…We’ve heard from some of you that…

Passive, not active. Irrelevant unless it applies to YOU. Indirect, not direct.

Body copy after

For Facebook users who are not fluent in English, we’ve translated this important information into 36 languages…You probably use Facebook apps and services every day, to connect with the people, places and things you care about…Some people have told us…

Summary before

Protecting people’s information and providing meaningful privacy controls are at the core of everything we do, and we believe these announcements are an important step.

Protecting people’s information and providing meaningful privacy controls are at the core? Of everything? Really? Doesn’t ring true. Anyway, no-one cares what ‘we believe'; they only care what’s in it for them.

Summary after

You rightly expect Facebook to protect your information and provide meaningful privacy controls. These changes are an important step.

What this means to you…

If a process needs explaining, it’s probably too complicated. Think of the number of pages of guideline notes you get with a tax return, for example.

When you are writing to inform, always keep it simple. Use Plain English (with added character, style and elegance to suit your brand). Maybe consider employing a professional (hint, hint)?!

P.S. I know the headline to this post is badly written. I was trying to be ironic/American.

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One Response to How badly written is Facebook’s update about their new T&Cs?

  1. Jon Radford November 28, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

    Hi Jacky

    Have you sent this to Facebook’s marketing department (suitably reworded so as to suggest improved customer engagement without being unduly critical of “Corporate Speak”)?

    You never know there could be a consultancy in it for you!

    Keep-up the good work, Jon

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