Facebook: Groups, privacy, data portability
The social network is currently deploying multiple updates related to privacy and the control of information.
These aren’t the kind of announcements that we usually hear from Facebook. The rumour of a Facebook Smartphone continues to circulate, so could it be that they are trying to change the subject? Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, nevertheless has ambitions to attack what he qualifies as the "biggest problem in social networks".
To do this, Facebook has decided to deploy a few good ideas by adapting the use of the already present lists function. It appears that most users haven’t really picked up on lists, so Facebook will offer a new function which will make it easier to create groups.
These Groups allow you to arrange your friends, with Mark Zuckerberg concedes that until now it hasn’t been easy to "create and maintain a shared space for an intimate group of people, like classmates, workgroups or family".
The creation of groups will be very simple to do. You simply have to provide the group with a name (numerous icons are available to represent the group) and add the members to the group. A group is therefore not automatically created. This can cause some problems though if a user hasn’t agreed to be a member of the group before being added by a host. If this happens and they don’t wish to participate, then it is simple to leave and the host can’t do much about it.
By default, a group is closed, which means that the members are public knowledge, but the content remains private. The other two privacy settings are Open (everything is public) and Private (everything is hidden). The groups offer various sharing possibilities. With each published document, the group’s members will receive a notification of new content. Another option made available is chat which will allow you to discuss with all of the other group members at once. Mailing and collaborative work on a document are also options to be included.
In addition to Groups
In addition to the addition of Groups, Facebook will progressively deploy a new dashboard (accessible from the privacy settings) so that user's can quickly see the applications used by transmitted data, and control access at this level. Another function which will appear for the more than 500 million Facebook users has left us a little perplexed though. This is the ability of downloading all of your Facebook information in the form of a zip file, providing you with a copy of your profile with photos, messages, videos, etc.
To receive this archive file (via the account settings), numerous security mechanisms have been put into place. The user will receive an email with a download link which then has to be validated by their password. The archive contains a file which can be opened in a web browser, allowing the user to view their Facebook profile and content on their local machine. The notion of data portability has been mentioned, but we have to wonder what for? The option appears to be more symbolic than anything else, allowing Facebook to claim that the user is the owner of all their data.
Behind the announcements of these new features, we feel that Facebook is doing everything they can to reassure their user community after having been severely criticised about data confidentiality in the past.
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