Facebook overhauls Groups, allows data downloads

Facebook gets some group mentality
Facebook gets some group mentality

Facebook has announced a raft of new features that have been designed to give users more control over how they use their Facebook pages, including a redesign of the Groups feature.

It has long been a gripe that you can't send out status updates to select groups of people (telling friends how hungover you are, but not your work colleagues).

This has now been fixed, with Mark Zuckerberg, he of Simpsons and The Social Network fame, noting in a blog post: "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'.

"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."

Now the Groups feature means you can fence off communities easier on Facebook, make them closed and share whatever information you like – including IM, images and you can even treat the group as an email list.

Download data

As well as overhauling the groups, Facebook is now giving users the opportunity do download everything they have ever updated to the site.

"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," said Zuckerberg.

"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."

This will be great when the high-quality image viewer rolls out, as you will be able to store your images on the site Flickr-style and download them whenever you want at a later date.

Private showing

The final update is to do with privacy. A new dashboard for applications is being rolled out which hopes to add transparency into how your data is being used by apps.

Here you will be able to change how much data apps can gain about you.

There's talk that this new wave of rollouts is part of on-going changes which will soon culminate in another redesign of the site.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, Shortlist.com at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.