Facebook Redefines Groups And Lets You Download Data

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Facebook CEO and a few developers shared the next big plan today via LiveStream for its 500 million users. The first order of changes involved something that was not ever expected to come out of a Facebook mouth: Download Your Data. Mark Zuckerberg stated that he thinks everyone should have access to and be able to download their own data. This would include photos, messages updates and information relevant to your account. Where did this come from considering there were a few applications that would could pull your data but ended up being removed and some people shut out of their accounts for using such an application. The closest thing leading up to this idea was being able to import your contacts into a yahoo account, although some users complained they could not get the contacts loaded.

Another area Zuckerberg discusses was the new groups feature. One of the frustrations he noted from users is wanting to share things with just a subset of friends rather than update your status or share news with all of your friends. He also pointed out using lists to filter who you share with on Facebook has not had a high adoption rate. The new groups feature would allow the user to create a group on the fly and tag friends like you would tag a photo. Now the group chat function is available to accomplish conversations, planning or plain chat sessions between a group of people. There is also a doc link that seems it will work out for group collaboration on a documentation, similar to Google Docs sharing function (this is yet to be seen in actually functionality). The group can be private or public and any status updates, links, photos etc shared in the group would follow the privacy settings and only be visible to that group of people. One major addition in groups is the ability to add a group email address. Facebook taking a Google Wave/Ning type of approach to collaboration?

The services Facebook is offering tis user is constantly evolving into something usable and simlutaneosly unnerving. First the changes made everythign open to everyone everywhere all the time unless you could figure out how to change the settings. Then the privacy settings were updated and you had little choice to filter with whom and how you shared your photos, status updates, links or notes. People voiced their opinion on the changes to the Terms of Service and Facebook responded with a more agreeable set of terms and used group participation to gain better adoption. Now, Facebook says you should be able to control your data including download a copy if you choose and have taken initiatives to revamp group activity. Oh, have you seen your phone number on Facebook lately? If you have used the mobile application to sync with Facebook you may now notice the new Phonebook section that publishes not only your current friends on Facebook that may be on your mobile device, but it also publishes ALL your mobile device contacts to Facebook. Take a peak under your Account/Edit Friends, look to the left column for Phonebook. My Facebook Guru, Mari Smith has a short video to explain the Facebook Phonebook.

Are we really evolving with Facebook or setting ourselves up for some future purpose of an undisclosed data farm? How much of YOU is actually on Facebook? In my case, I’m all over the internets with accounts, blogs, photos and other data because I like technology, I like sharing and learning. I know who I am. Does that advertiser in India know who you are? Does Best Buy target ads to you to get you to buy that flat screen in your zipcode knowing you can barely afford it but will buy it anyway based on your update behavior or Fan Page “Likes”? This followed by Chase Bank prompting you to open a new credit card right before the holidays since your data fits the criteria and they need not bother with a pre-qualified credit check? All hypothetcial but worth your thoughts.

Get the full details on the Facebook Blog.

Overall, I like the additional features and I know how I would use the functionality and choices. See you around Facebook. Your thoughts and comments welcome right here, anytime. (listens for crickets…)

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