Facebook Creates 'Groups' Feature; Changes Way Users Share

Users will be able to share with just co-workers or just school friends.

Oct. 6, 2010— -- Facebook today announced that it will change the way users share information on the site, through a new "group" feature which will allow users to separate the way they share items with groups like co-workers, family and high school friends.

"Right now we've made it easy to share with everybody or just with your friends. But in reality, sharing with just your friends really isn't private," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a media briefing at the company's California headquarters.

In addition to the groups feature, Facebook also announced a new feature that allows users to download all the information they have chosen to post on Facebook.

Facebook already allows users to create various types of lists to sort what they share, but Zuckerberg said only 5 percent of users have bothered to do so, and most have only created one list.

The new group feature gets around that problem by letting anybody add someone to a group. Zuckerberg said it would be similar to the photo tagging feature, in which all users can tag someone in a photo. Not every Facebook user posts images to the site, but he said 95 percent of users have a photo of themselves that they let friends tag.

Just like the photo functionality, the group feature will allow people to create a group and add people to it without the others having to do that work. The feature is aimed at replacing the "friend list" feature, which will remain for those 5 percent who have spent all the time creating the lists.

Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old billionaire who founded Facebook from his Harvard dorm room in 2004, took to the stage in a gray T-shirt just a few days after The Social Network," an unauthorized movie focusing on him and Facebook's founding hit national theaters.

The movie depicts him as a girl-crazy computer nerd desperate to gain access to the university's refined and exclusive social clubs.

In a cafeteria-like setting, Zuckerberg appeared relaxed as he described the new products and then took questions from technology reporters and bloggers in the room.

Facebook Announces Grouping, Downloading Functions

Facebook hopes that with the new, limited and more targeted groups, people will be more willing to post items to Facebook and do so more frequently.

"We can unlock a huge amount of sharing people want to do but can't because it's too annoying or there aren't privacy settings to do this on such a huge scale," Zuckerberg said. "You have these different social circles and you want to interact with them in different ways."

If you get added to 20-30 groups, but in reality only a couple you actually use, and those will be the ones that filter up to the top. As for privacy: there are three settings--open, closed, and secret. The default is closed.

The other new service, called "download your information," will allow Facebook members to download .zip files with archives of all the photos, videos, wall posts, messages and RSVPed events, that have been placed on the site.

"It's our core belief that people own all of the information they put into Facebook and should be able to take it with them," said Zuckerberg.

Another new tweak to Facebook creates a dashboard aimed at making it easier for users to track all of the Facebook applications they use and the privacy permissions granted or denied.

In announcing the changes, Zuckerberg said that employees have been under a 60-day "lockdown" to finish these products and others.

Last week, Facebook rolled out changes to its photos feature, allowing higher resolution images, the clustering of photos and a new uploader.

Zuckerberg said the company has also focused on fixing the quality of its chat network and reducing spam. For instance, now only people who are playing games on Facebook see their friends' posts regarding those games. Zuckerberg promises more tweaks in the coming weeks.