The biggest problem in social networking is helping you easily interact with your friends and share information in lots of different contexts.
For example, you might want to share photos from a family vacation with just your family, send a video from a party to just the people who were there, invite coworkers to an office event, play a game with a few friends, or use a running website with your friends who like jogging.
We’ve long heard that people would find Facebook more useful if it were easier to connect with smaller groups of their friends instead of always sharing with everyone they know. For some it’s their immediate family and for others it’s their fantasy football league, but the common concern 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.”
Until now, Facebook has made it easy to share with all of your friends or with everyone, but there hasn’t been a simple way to create and maintain a space for sharing with the small communities of people in your life, like your roommates, classmates, co-workers and family.
We set out to build a solution that could help you map out all of your communities, that would be simple enough that everyone would use it and that would be deeply integrated across Facebook and applications so you can communicate with your different groups in lots of different ways.
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.
Today we’re announcing a completely overhauled, brand new version of Groups. It’s 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.
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.
I’m also excited to share a couple of other new things we’ve been working on that will give you more control and make it easier to stay connected no matter what you’re trying to do.
First, we’ve built an easy way to quickly download to your computer everything you’ve ever posted on Facebook and all your correspondences with friends: your messages, Wall posts, photos, status updates and profile information.
If you want a copy of the information you’ve put on Facebook for any reason, you can click a link and easily get a copy of all of it in a single download. To protect your information, this feature is only available after confirming your password and answering appropriate security questions. We’ll begin rolling out this feature to people later today, and you’ll find it under your account settings.
Second, we’re launching a new dashboard to give you visibility into how applications use your data to personalize your experience. 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.
As this rolls out, in your Facebook privacy settings, you will have a single view of all the applications you’ve authorized and what data they use. You can also see in detail when they last accessed your data. You can change the settings for an application to make less information available to it, or you can even remove it completely.
We’ve heard loud and clear that you want more control over what you share on Facebook–to manage exactly who sees it and to understand exactly where it goes. With this new Groups experience and the other tools we’re rolling out today, we’re taking a few important steps forward towards giving you precise controls. We hope these tools bring you more confidence as you share things on Facebook, and that your experience grows richer and more real as a result.