Thursday, October 7, 2010

New Features in facebooks: Prepare For More Cliques

Facebook's new features will fundamentally change the way many people use the site. Revamped Groups and a control center for third-party applications will put those at ease who want to play on Facebook without accidentally oversharing with the wrong audience. The changes offer more control over who sees your activities and how applications access your profile, in addition to letting you zip up and download all your messages, videos, photos, and wall posts. Facebook's 500 million users will see the new features roll out gradually, starting on Wednesday.
The applications dashboard will let you control and remove apps in one location.The applications dashboard will let you control and remove apps in one location. 

Applications Dashboard
A new way to manage third-party Facebook apps combines two previously separate screens in one place. You can see the permission you've granted to an app as well as a log of when it last accessed your information.

This looks like a strong step forward in helping you understand the default settings that vary from app to app, and decide if something feels intrusive or safe. For example, the control panel will show if an app requires viewing your friends' information as well--such as with a birthday calendar.

Facebook touted this feature as not only offering more choice and transparency for users, but encouraging app developers to be more judicious in how they treat users.

For the first time, if you're disgruntled enough with Facebook, you could walk away forever without losing your history, packing the record of your activity--including mobile uploads--as a ZIP file on your hard drive.
At a press event, Facebook offered this example of how downloading your profile data will appear.At a press event, Facebook offered this example of how downloading your profile data will appear."It's our core belief that people should own and be able to conrol their information in Facebook," said CEO Mark Zuckerberg. "We view this as a philosophical thing."
That hopefully represents a shift away from Facebook's privacy stumbles of the past, such as the Beacon online ad system that targeted non-Facebook users several years ago, and its former policy of not letting users delete their accounts.
Because downloading so much sensitive data could be a potential target for scam artists, Zuckerberg insisted that the steps of the process will include password and e-mail verification, and will flag any request coming from an unusual location. He mentioned Facebook's "social captcha" system, which verifies potentially suspect users identities' by asking them to identify "friends" in photos.

New Facebook Groups let you set notifications for activity in the group.New Facebook Groups let you set notifications for activity in the group.The new Groups allow a walled garden for sharing basic text documents, managing events, and chatting with up to 250 people at the same time. Groups includes a text editor, Docs, which offers extremely basic formatting options. (Google and Microsoft should not fear, at least for now.)
You could, for instance, create a Group for family members, another for coworkers, and another for people you haven't seen since kindergarten. This should make Facebook more fun, if you've found lately that the more awkward "friends" you've accepted, the less freely you've been communicating there.
There are three options for groups, starting with the default, Closed setting that hides content from those who don't belong. Making a group Open, on the other hand, means the world--even outside of Facebook--can see what your group is up to. Labeling a group Private is a "Skull & Bones" option; not only are non-members unable to view your activities, but they can't even see that your group exists.

Facebook says only 5 percent of users make friend lists, which offer basic but plodding controls for opening or blocking parts of profile to designated "friends". The revamped Groups are likely to change that. Once you establish your social groups, you can share and hide things from each cluster in one fell swoop.

Facebook's Shift
You'll be able to create a custom e-mail address for a Group, but requests are first-come, first-served.You'll be able to create a custom e-mail address for a Group, but requests are first-come, first-served.On the surface, Facebook's changes offer new freedom and control for individuals. However, that's not the whole picture, and there are some confusing points.
For example, the old Groups will continue to exist alongside the new features of the same name, but why and for how long? Also, it's unclear how the changes will affect businesses that rely on Facebook Pages.
Unfortunately, at this time you can share individual images but not photo albums among the groups. Wouldn't you like to hide those awkward seventh-grade class photos you're tagged in, or snapshots of last weekend's bachelor party, from key "friends"?

Oddly enough, though, the new Groups potentially subject you to the whims of other users who can add you without first getting your permission. Imagine suddenly finding that fans of a political candidate you loathe have included you in their club. Once you ask to leave the group forever, however, its members can't continue to add you.
Some users might find it annoying that they'll get notifications each time a message is posted to a Group wall, but you can opt out of this.
Leaving a Group will be a one-step process.Leaving a Group will be a one-step process.
With private Group spaces, there will be more channels within Facebook in which to share and relate, with social circles broken into smaller, self-defined categories.

If more users hide activities behind closed Groups that they would normally broadcast broadly on Facebook, nosy relatives, advertisers, or curious onlookers may find themselves shut out of a newly cliqueish virtual world.

That's great if you're wary of sharing too much information, but it also changes the character of a site that has offered a sort of freewheeling, stream-of-consciousness way of learning about "friends" on walls and via news feeds. Facebook may evolve into an ecosystem or "social platform" of communities that are more self-segregated than in the past. In any case, maybe it's time for Facebook users to judge each other by the content and character of their groups rather than the sheer number of friends. 

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