Welcome To The New Facebook: What Facebook's New Features Mean

Welcome to the new Facebook.  No, I don't mean Facebook the social network, although today's changes do represent some exciting new capabilities for Facebook users. Instead, I mean Facebook the company.  The organization that today announced new features seems a different Facebook than the one we’ve seen in the past.  Today’s Facebook is one committed to transparency and user control and mindful of its increasingly vital and high-profile position within people's communications and lives.

By now you may have heard of (or seen) the new features Facebook announced at its press event this morning. Here is a brief summary:

  • Download Your Info: You can download a copy of everything you’ve ever posted to Facebook. Go to “Account: Account Settings” in the upper right hand corner of your Facebook page to access this new feature. As an extra security measure, you will be asked to authenticate yourself before downloading your data as a ZIP file.  This file will contain your posts, pictures, list of friends, events, notes and more (see Figure 1).
     
  • Applications You Use: To date, once you allowed a third-party application to access your Facebook data, you had no ability to see what personal data was transferred and had few options to manage the application permissions.  Facebook is now offering greater transparency and control over this data sharing. Go to “Account: Privacy” in the upper right hand corner of your Facebook page, then click “edit settings” to review the applications you have authorized.  You can see the data each application has accessed; if you are unhappy with the amount of personal information provided, you may easily remove optional permissions for an application or deauthorize it completely from accessing your data (see Figure 2).
     
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