Live Blogging Facebook’s Lockdown Products Launch: Download All Your Data, Control App Access, and New Groups

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is on stage here at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto.

Our paraphrased notes below.

10:40 We’ve been in lockdown mode and we’re really excited about what’s coming out. We worked on Photos, Chat, and more.

We also focused a lot on cleaning up quality. We’ve always prided ourselves on having real people and real information in graphs, so we focused on cutting spam, changed games policies. Now, all users have real names — make them prove it to us that they’re real.

We’ve been rolling out Places, only available in a few countries and the iPhone. Already, it’s by far the biggest Places and location app out there. Looking forward to rolling it out more.

We also started with Questions. We’re really happy; quality of questions is really high.

On the platform side, you get more activity if your friends are playing games, more consistent navigation if you’re into playing them. So far, it’s been neutral for game developers. App developers have seen a surge in growth.

We have more Connect and Instant Personalization partners, too.

Lockdown was busy. Bunch more releases coming up in the next months.

10:45 What we’re trying to do here is build a social platform. That’s different from a social application. App is one use case — photos for friends, inviting to events, playing games, posting status updates. Hard to get those dynamics right.

More challenging: a platform where you can bring the connections across all the apps in a seamless way.

Key is having an easy way to control information — each is a little different. Family vacation, work activity, etc.

Key is for people to have really simple controls that are powerful enough to apply across a wide variety of contexts. If we build this, then we can enable the kind of innovation that you’ve seen on the best platforms that have been built. The key to that is building a system where people have control of their information in all sorts of different contexts.

Three things to talk about:

1. Making it easy for people to take their information to another service, do in a safe way. People should own and have control over the information they put into Facebook. They should be able to take it down if they want. Over the past few years, we’ve been focused on building Connect. Around a million sites are using it.

But one of the challenges, though, is that we want to make sure that there’s a way for people to bring their information…. A lot of the time people just want to have a copy of their application. Right now, unless you build on the Graph API, there was no way to get it. But there was no way to download

Now there is. “Download your information.” You can easily bring your information to any context on the web

2. The “Apps that you use” dashboard. Last time that they’ve accessed all the data they’ve accessed. You can go in, change permissions. Pretty meaningful for giving people information. Pretty important steps for building towards a social platform.

That’s the overview for the first.

10:50 David Recordon, senior open programs manager

Come click the download button, we’ll send you an email with all of your photos, messages, wall posts, events, friends. You’ll have a copy of them. Copy is really all in one place, in your zip file. You need to take security seriously here. We’ll give you a password and other means to confirm that you’re you.

We wanted it to be useful to normal people. It’ll pop open the web browser. File from download will appear, with profile info. Wall. All recent wall posts. You can scroll through that. So easy and quick.

10:54 Carl Sjogreen, Product Manager

As Mark mentioned, one of the other things is a new dashboard that provides greater visibility and control over apps on the platform. We combined two separate screens for apps and privacy settings into one. You can click on each app, and you can see three major things — permissions the app has access to, manage what permissions the app has over time…

Apps’ ability to post to wall can be removed after the fact, for example.

Last thing, major new thing. Exactly what new API calls the app is making over time. You can see here: TripaAdvisor accessed current city, and the date. Great for individuals, see what time. For individuals, pretty big win. Also pretty big for the platform as a whole. Greater visibility also for developers, as they’ll be much more judicious in what data they access on users’ behalf.

10:58 Zuckerberg is back on.

One of the biggest issues in social networking is this. Updating all at once — that’s a big use case. But in reality use cases look different. You have different social circles you want to interact with in different ways.

Some are work friends, some are high school….

A lot of time you don’t want to post something to all your friends, not because of privacy, but because you don’t want to annoy them all. This is a huge problem that’s applicable across the apps and the ecosystem. How do you solve? We’ve focused on mapping out who your friends are.

Goals:

- Map all real world groups

- Everyone participates

- Useful in lots of contexts.

11:00 You want to do it that’s useful, but in a way that they can use these groups they can use everywhere around the site — privacy, filtering information, doing different operations in other apps. We feel that if we can do this, we can unlock a huge amount of sharing.

How do you solve this problem?

The naive solution is something like friend lists. One is you map it out each time. You have an event, and you pick the people you want to invite. It’s possible, a lot of people do it. But it’s pretty brutal to have to do this every single time and not have  a way to have these sets of people defined for you.

That’s one thing. Another solution is instead of having to make it so you can have friend lists?

Just take friends on a site, and cut them into subgroups. Sounds good in theory. But almost no one wants to make lists. We’ve been at this for a few years, and promoted heavily. Most we’ve gotten is 5% to make lists, and most don’t make more than one.

What’s the next solution?

11:05 Let’s design an algorithm…. the reality is that Facebook is a really hardcore tech that we’ve used to track friendships, weight, show a better news feed, who you’re closer with, or you interact with them a lot. Whereas somebody you haven’t talked to in a year, you don’t want to see what they had for breakfast. We built “Coefficient” an index for relationships. We can help you know, and help you use, filter who you’re likely to be close with. We use this in a bunch of places.

This is the chat interface on the home page.

The Chat feature shows the people you’re most likely to talk to, who are online right now.

But there are limits to get this wrong and have the effects be devastating. Carpenter working on your house is not a mutual friend. Almost worse when it’s correct. You don’t want to see a list of the people who they’re closest with. Catastrophic. We take top ten on for Chat list, but it’s alphabetical.

What’s the definition of a close friend? You get to choose. You build social bonds on the site.

11:10 We think there are real bounds you can get with these solutions. You can’t guess clusters with a lot of accuracy. Isn’t Silicon Valley focused on tech and algorithms.

There’s another thing — there are social solutions to problems. This is what Facebook. People would have said tagging, face recognition… turns out the real solution is a lot simpler. Build a great interface where people can tag people and share with friends. Not one person or a machine, but a sum total of all 500 million people building interactions.

11:15 This is what works. If this problem was primarily an interface or algorithm problem, another company would have solved it. But it was social, so we solved it.

If we build entrepreneurs the right tools, they’re going to solve the problems this way.

We have three goals (see previous list).

We have a….

Social solution:

- Best group communication tool

- Easy for friends to set up.

Groups — we want people to use them really well. More important is how this gets formed. Just like photos, groups have the property that not everyone has to set them up themselves. Some people might create, but everyone will get.

This is what we’re going to talk about today. It’s a product and a fundamental building block. A forcing function and a new way to use the site with smaller groups of people. Shared space for people to communicate in.

Groups:

- Shared space

- Group chat

- Email list

We think this is going to be the thing that people use for Groups.

11:15 New Groups. Justin Schaffer, who has been heading up the team.

Create mailing list, a group chat. Perhaps most importantly, sharing with groups gives our users control over who they’re sharing with and how they’re sharing.

Shared space: Each group controlled by entirety of members. You can add any group. Others can add any group. If someone else wants to join, they can request. I wouldn’t add someone who’s not part of my family. Most viewed groups will live in left-hand navigation.

Group chat: Works like one-on-one.

Mailing list: You can send and receive email. Keep up to date. You can do a new post or comment on a post.

Also a new interface for groups.

Also: Docs, a wiki-like feature. Edit a doc. Create and edit. Similar to other wiki products online.

Perhaps most importantly: a Graph API for groups. Leverage who you’ve added, for Facebook, for apps.

This is really very very high signal data.

11:20 Chris Cox, vice president of product, on stage.

Talks about social approach to software….

We’re going to call this “social design.” When you think of problem of profile, mapping photos — one is face recognition, another is inviting your friends to help. The first thing is finding and connecting with friends.

The interactions of one person with a product affect the people around them. Take the way the real world works and apply to Facebook.

You have a dinner table with your family, etc.

News feed is not just a filter, it’s designing a space. News feed is a little weird — each post has a different audience. It’s this collision of fragmented audiences.

Groups design is focused on ownership of space for members. Has them featured prominently. Meant to resemble a human space.

These are two of the social design principles.

Summary:

- Private space: more control and confidence over how it works

- Easy download

- Better visibility

Questions and answers:

Q: What happens to friend lists?

Zuck: Won’t be deleted. But groups will be what gets used. We wanted to design something that’s so simple that everyone will interact with it. We’re building in news feed composer, API, etc. will be part of normal Graph API. Go to any web site and have activity broken down by groups there. We think this will segment activity, give them more control.

Q: The idea of groups is to have people share more, privately. There’s also the risk when somebody who’s not authorized gets in. What sort of protections?

Zuck: Right now, when someone gets added to the group, that gets added to the group. We think openness and transparency solves a lot of these problems. If you could add without accountability, that could lead to bad behaviors.

Q: One way that people have dealt with the problems of friends lists, they’ve been creating separate accounts. Do you have any planned facilities for merging accounts? Will the exporting feature allow for that?

Zuck: This is new, we’re working on it. But we built the new one from the ground up. Both are called Groups — old versus new. We’re keeping the old “Groups” around. But you can’t make one anymore. We’ll continue to take steps to help people share more.

Q: Obviously there are companies building Pages. Will they be able to create Groups?

Zuck: Groups break down at scale. Tend to be pretty small. Focused on small groups, we’d get a better map of what the world of people’s social relationships look like. But also through the API. For brands going forward. There’s nothing stopping brands from creating groups, but not optimized. We’ll keep on watching.

Q: Can you approve being added to a group? If he doesn’t want to let y

Schaffer: People can add remove.

Q: If I want to control groups, how can I control.

Andrew “Boz” Bozworth, Facebook engineer: Even up to 150 people, it’ll feel really good. As it grows larger, we take out functionality. We turn off group chat around 250. Behavior news feeds and notifications changes as it grows.

Q: What’s going to happen with profiles? When I started joining groups, I’m going to be mostly posting to groups and not profiles. Potentially there could be a huge shift in where we share our information.

Schaffer: Limited distribution of stories in the feed. If Mark and Boz are in the same group as me, having a conversation, I might see an indication that the group is going on. Looks like a directed message in the feed. “Mark posted to a Hang Out After Work” group in the feed. We could do same with profiles if it made sense.

Zuck: Behavior should be additive. Share with all your friends, share with group of people. We aren’t trying to be hyperbolic when we say that this will be a fundamental shift in how people use Facebook and applications. There’s a huge amount of stuff that people want to share. But we just think that this adds a whole new element on top of that.

Q: How will groups spread if only 5% create?

Zuck: Math is pretty simple. If only a small amount create, then each add a small amount, it’ll still add up to reach most people. Friend lists can’t be shared. Groups can be.

Q: What about information overload? All these groups and group chat?

Zuck: We want to make it really easy to leave a group and change the way you get notified by a group. We made this change last week or a couple weeks ago for the navigation on the homepage. Bookmarks there are from apps and games that you’re using most regularly. You might try out a lot of apps, and you might be added to 20 or 30 groups. But in reality you’ll probably only have a few main ones. We think that should mitigate the information overload problem.
We’re about as active of users as you get, and we found that managing it was a reasonable thing to do.

Three privacy settings: Open, Closed, Secret. Default is open. Two axes: can you see who is in group, and can you see content. Open  is both. Closed is see people but not content. Secret is nothing visible.

Q:  Concern about people downloading data.

Recordon: If you’ve deleted data from Facebook, it won’t appear in download.

Zuck. You can start building walls, it’s those same walls that will block out innovation. But those walls protect you…. People should be able download their information, philosophical thing. But we require people to log in, re-login, social CATPCHAs, etc. to maintain.

Q: Can you use groups with a few clicks?

Boz: Yes.

Q: How do you think about adding new features versus balancing with existing ones.

Zuck: It’s a constant question we have. We’re definitely learning from the things we got right and wrong… there’s this question of should we remove old features. We want to build a simple product. Tens of millions of people have invested in these old things, cost is low, and focus on building out for the future.

Q: We’ve had these news feeds coming through… my dad and everyone sees it. Do their news feeds keep popping up on the main page?

Cox: We think your dad will share a lot more in these groups. Hopefully he’ll figure it out. We’re using a lot of the things where people already work.

Q: Export function. Could another social network be able to access your data, your friends list?

Zuck: At a high level, two things. Connect, designed to make it completely simple to go to another site, transfer information. That’s our real effort to bring information to other sites. This is really so you can have a copy. Can you go ahead and download the information, then upload to another site? Sure, but it’s a lot easier to go through Connect than download a file that’s 10 to 30 MBs, then re-upload. But philosophically, yes.

Q: In terms of export, what do you see about your friends. Do you get the contact information as well?

Zuck: What we’re focusing on is your information. You put all this effort into photos and videos, you should be able to get them. We decided that even though it’s a lot of content and slower download, you should be able to download video. No connection between that video and Facebook if you want. All you information, status updates, wall posts, but not your friends’ information — that’s not yours. In the future, we’ll consider.

Q: Name-space collisions. How does that work? Two people with the name “family.”

Boz: It’s okay for there to be a lot of Andrew Bozworths out there, but they can search for me. There’ll be a lot of groups called “Family” that will be relevant to me. No technical limitation.

Q: Rolling out to user base entirely.

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One Response to “Live Blogging Facebook’s Lockdown Products Launch: Download All Your Data, Control App Access, and New Groups”

  1. The Facebook Announcement That You May Have Missed. - Geolocation says:

    [...] Zuckerberg and Company remain mum on the development, I can’t help but wonder if the next post-lockdown announcement will provide an explanation and perhaps solve predictions on the future of Foursquare and competing [...]

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