At Facebook’s event today in Palo Alto, we got two major announcements to the Facebook platform. The one that most are excited about is the ability to download your Facebook data. The second is a redesign of the Groups feature, which I think is powerful enough to attract some users back to Facebook.
Download Your Information
A major point that always comes up in discussions about Facebook and its privacy practices is that you can’t get your data out of it. Even given this obstacle, many users did “delete” their accounts. For those few that succeeded past the “deactivated” phase, they might be kicking themselves now.
Facebook Product Manager David Recordon explains that you can access the “Download Your Information” feature from your account settings, hit the download button and Facebook will allow you to download everything off your profile, including all of your messages, wall posts and all of your photos, into a zip file.
Not only is this an awesome feature for users, but it opens up the possibility for other services to easily import Facebook data. As a whole, this make Facebook a little more open and makes your personal online profile a little more portable.
While it’s simple to share stuff on Facebook with your friends or with the world, it’s much more difficult to single out a specific group. As Zuckerberg points out, lists can be tedious and hard to manage (FB list help). Algorithms also don’t always get things quite right. The solution comes in looking at how you interact with others.
We approached this problem as primarily a social one. Rather than asking all of you to classify how you know all of your friends, or programming machines to guess which sets of people are likely cohorts, we’re offering something that’s as simple as inviting your best friends over for dinner. And we think it will change the way you use Facebook and the web.
At first glance, you’ll notice that you still have to manually add people to a group once you’ve created it. What isn’t immediately clear is that your friends can ask to be invited to your group. For instance, if I create a group for Black Web 2.0 readers, I just have to make the group Open and people can invite themselves to join and participate.
From this space, you can quickly post photos, make plans and keep up with ongoing conversations. You can also group chat with members who are online right now. You can even use each group as an email list to quickly share things when you’re not on Facebook. The net effect is your whole experience is organized around spaces of the people you care most about.
This is a good example of how a simple reorganization of features can dramatically change user experience. I suspect that the new groups feature will completely change the way many of us use Facebook. One feature that will become immediately obvious is group chat.
As I watched the live Facebook event, I noticed a chat popup in Facebook from the Flickchart group. Seconds later, I saw a lot of activity coming from the FriendFeed chat group. I rarely use groups, so it’s a welcome change to see live interaction going on around them.
Facebook groups are Closed by default, which means other users can see the members, but can’t see what’s being posted. You can also make a group Secret, which hides everything about it.Category: News | Tags: downloads, facebook, groups, Privacy