Today Facebook made several announcements that begin to address key issues I’ve written about many times: With “New Groups” the company is providing a more nuanced instrumentation of your social graph, and with “Download Your Information” Facebook is addressing issues of both lock-in and the “Data Bill of Rights.”
You can read all about the news at other sites, but here are the basics: Through a new groups feature, Facebook is allowing its members to share information with selected subsets of friends. This is an issue that was widely discussed after Google engineer Paul Adams called Facebook out on it back in July.
Facebook also announced a service that lets you download “everything you’ve ever posted on Facebook and all your correspondences with friends: your messages, Wall posts, photos, status updates and profile information.” As the blog post continues:
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.
In a related move, Facebook is changing how users interact with applications, and how we all see and can instrument permissions around our data:
..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.
Taken together, these changes create a framework for Facebook to further expand its reach and depth into the “non Facebook” web. The major impediment to increased off-site engagement for Facebook have been instrumentation, on the one hand, and trust, on the other. They go together. Give me more instrumentation/control, then I’ll trust you to be part of my non-Facebook interactions across the web.
This has significant implications for the adoption of Facebook Places, for example, which CEO Zuckerberg called out in his presentation today. Expect more from me on these moves in future posts…