Zucerberg announces Facebook updates

by Derrick Johnson on October 7, 2010

Facebook announced yesterday three new updates to its platform including a new Groups feature, the ability to download user profiles and a new dashboard for privacy and application settings.

Groups will allow users to choose a small group of people with whom they can interact with more personally. After creating the group, the user will be able to upload photos and information for only the group to view. A group chat will also be included wherein all group members can chat simultaneously.

The Groups feature is an effort to address privacy problems on Facebook for users who have hundreds of broad friendships to whom they are uncomfortable revealing personal information. Facebook developers attempted to solve this with the Friend List feature but it was largely unsuccessful.

Groups will reportedly benefit Facebook too, since the social network makes much of its revenue from targeting ads based on user information. “Knowing the groups you are part of helps us understand the people who are most important to you, and that can help us rank items in the news feed,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, told the New York Times.

The new dashboard feature will give users a less complicated view of their applications and what information the applications can access. It will also allow for modification of the application’s level of access.

For some time Facebook users have been requesting the ability to download their profile. A new feature announced yesterday will allow them to download and upload their profiles to competitor websites.

Facebook has been criticized by such competitors such as Google for guarding its member’s information, reports CBC.ca.

However, information may not be as private as some say. Facebook recently announced an update to its gaming section which gave PS3 game developers access to a game player’s profiles and friends list, allowing gamers to incorporate Facebook information into their play.

“We’ve pretty much opened up the entire Facebook API to our game developers,” Eric Lempel, one of Sony Computer Entertainment’s vice presidents, told Forbes Magazine. “They’re able to pull any piece of information from Facebook, as well as push information out to Facebook.”

Privacy issues have plagued Facebook for some time and were recently highlighted in the film “The Social Network,” which is currently playing in theaters. The film has generated considerable Oscar buzz and may prove to be a tough contender at the awards next year.

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