Facebook announces new privacy controls

By TheTechDad

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg today unveiled a new privacy feature which could dramatically change the way people use the giant social network.

Up until now, the vast majority of Facebook users have shared information with all their Friends, no matter if they are best friends, family members, work colleagues, or just passing acquaintances. This has led to “oversharing” – the posting of information or photos that are not intended for such a wide audience.

While Facebook users have been able to organize their friends into Lists, or exclude certain friends from individual posts, this has been a complicated and tiresome exercise. Instead, Facebook has overhauled the existing Groups structure, allowing members to use this feature to establish small groups of friends in a more private setting. The default setting for each Group will be Closed, meaning only members of that particular Group can see what’s going on.

“We’ve long heard that people would find Facebook more useful if it were easier to connect with smaller groups of friends instead of sharing with everyone they know,” wrote Zuckerberg in a blog post. “For some it’s their immediate family and for others it’s their fantasy football league, but the common ground is always some variant of ‘I’d share this thing, but I don’t want to bother 250 people. Or my grandmother. Or my boss.’”

The new Groups will allow users to post photos, make plans, and keep up with ongoing conversations within a more private setting. Users can chat with other Group members who are online and even use the Group as an e-mail list when they are not on Facebook.

The new Groups structure will not affect existing groups. The old groups will still appear on the Groups page but will not have the features of the new Groups. Unfortunately, old groups cannot be converted into new Groups, which may mean a lot of work for members who want to take advantage of the added privacy.

Of course, the ease with which Facebook members can now include or exclude friends will have implications for parental monitoring. If you are friends with your child but think you are not seeing everything that’s posted, you are probably correct. You might want to check out your child’s Groups and see how many you are not a member of!

In other news, Facebook announced a tool for downloading and reviewing everything that a member has ever posted to the social network. For added protection, this feature will require password confirmation and the answering of additional security questions.

Facebook is also launching a new dashboard to allow members to check on how third party sites and applications are using personal data. This single view of authorized applications will be accessible through members’ Privacy Settings.

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Comment by Sarah, posted 11/5/2010, 8:38 AM:

Yes, with the new features facebook have developed, like the "Group" privacy settings, parental control and monitoring is now even harder. What do you think is the best way for parents to still have the same tranquility while allowing their kids to have facebook accounts? Do you think using parental control software is one way?
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