Zynga Combines Privacy Education, Gaming And Rewards With PrivacyVille

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Getting ahead of any privacy issues surround your product is an important part of product development for any company. Facebook, unfortunately, learned this the hard way. Social gaming giant Zynga is adding a layer of transparency today with the launch of a new privacy initiative called PrivacyVille.

In typical Zynga fashion, PrivacyVille isn’t your average dull privacy education course but is instead a game-like tutorial that rewards players with the company’s virtual currency zPoints in RewardVille for learning more about Zynga’s privacy practices.

The game is actually modeled after CityVille, so players feel somwewhat at home navigating the game mechanics. You start the game in a small town, and travel through the town to learn more about important sections of Zynga’s Privacy Policy, as well as resources about controlling your information online. For example, when you start the game, Zynga tells you that in order to connect you to other people playing games on Facebook, it takes information from your Facebook profile, such your name, photos, and friends, to allow these games to become more social.

Another privacy tutorial involved informing mobile gamers that Zynga will capture your device ID and IP address. And Zynga says that they and advertisers may collect cookies from your browsing behavior,that the company uses your email address to send alerts, and that while Facebook processes much of the payments for virtual goods, Zynga is using a transmissions technology to make sure your payments info is secure. In all, Zynga has 14 areas in the town for various privacy notifications.

After reading all the notifications, you are then given a short quiz of five questions and will be taken to Rewardville to redeem your points. Also, you don’t need to be connected to Facebook or be registered as a Zynga player to tour PrivacyVille. However, if you are a Zynga player, you will have the option to connect to Zynga’s RewardVille and claim zPoints that can be used to redeem unique virtual items. As a side note, you can play PrivacyVille as much as you want but you will only get the rewards once.

Zynga says that PrivacyVille is not intended to be a substitute for its Privacy Policy or Privacy Center, but is just a more engaging way to explain the company’s privacy interactions.

Reggie Davis, Zynga’s General Counsel says of the new initiative: We know there is an interest in making privacy policies more approachable. We wanted to take a page from our game DNA to create a privacy tutorial that’s accessible, social and fun. We look forward to hearing feedback from players on how we can make it even easier for them to learn about our policies.

This is no doubt a smart move for Zynga. As the company grows, mitigating these privacy stumbles is important. As the company revealed in its S-1 IPO filing last week, privacy regulation and Facebook sharing are challenges for Zynga going forth. In fact, both Facebook and Zynga were sued last year over privacy breaches. And the fact that Zynga is providing virtual currency as an incentive should prevent the privacy initiative from going unnoticed.