Social Media

Facebook gives you more control

Mark Zuckerberg speaking at Facebook HQ in Palo Alto yesterday
Mark Zuckerberg speaking at Facebook HQ in Palo Alto yesterday
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It was a busy day at Facebook HQ in Palo Alto, California yesterday, where Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made three very important announcements, largely giving Facebook users more control over what they share and precisely who with.

New Facebook Groups

Mark Zuckerberg speaking at Facebook HQ in Palo Alto yesterday
Mark Zuckerberg speaking at Facebook HQ in Palo Alto yesterday
One of the best things we love about Facebook is the ability to connect with all our friends at once. However, until very recently it wasn’t possible to only connect with smaller groups, where relevance is high and concerns common.

In a Facebook blog post Zuckerberg describes “the biggest problem in social networking” as the interaction with friends and the sharing of information within different contexts.

Facebook understands that different groups or social circles interact in different ways and want to share different things with different people. To solve this problem they’ve introduced a new Groups product, allowing users to share content like photos and videos within a private, select group of people. Groups essentially allow for the organisation of social worlds within the wider Facebook social system, where more relevant interaction can take place and within a shared common context.

According to Zuckerberg Groups are a “simple way to stay up to date with small groups of your friends and to share things with only them in a private space. The default setting is Closed, which means only members see what’s going on in a group”.

Data portability

From your Facebook account settings there is now an option to download a copy of everything you’ve ever posted on Facebook. This includes messages, Wall posts, photos, status updates and profile information.

This is a welcome move from Facebook and one that nobody was expecting. Facebook has made it clear that this is a product for “normal people” and not for developers.

New Dashboard for applications you use

Facebook also launched a new dashboard today that shows you how applications use your data to personalise any shared interaction. Zuckerberg states: “As you start having more social and personalized experiences across the web, it’s important that you can verify exactly how other sites are using your information to make your experience better”.

The new dashboard is available from your Facebook privacy settings page, where you have a single view of all applications you’ve authorised, what data they use, and when they last accessed it.

These latest announcements from Facebook give increased control over personal data and privacy. It’s also no coincidence that they were made this week, days after The Social Network movie was released in the US. Facebook hopes that the publicity generated from these welcome changes will help counter any ill effects resulting from the movie. The Social Network reaches cinemas in Ireland on Friday October 15.

Let us know what you think of the changes Facebook made today.

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Darren McCarra
Darren McCarra is co-editor of The Sociable. He has a keen interest in photography, all things mobile, and writing about technology and social media. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.