Regarding the download functionality there is a larger comment on the SocialSafe blog, but it is worthwhile congratulating Facebook for finally recognising that data portability is important and that walled gardens where your data is trapped inside are a poor option for users. DAD is all about open data, with our indexing function freeing your data from its application prisons, so we applaud all initiatives to allow you access to and the ability to reuse data you have created. As we move forward with DAD you will see the power of having your data in one place in a single open format – organisation can be reused elsewhere, enhancements made in one place can be added to by another and otherwise hidden relationships can come to the fore. Getting your hands simply round all your digital data in an open reusable manner is a core principle behind DAD – it’s good to welcome Facebook to the party.
The changes to Facebook Groups do respond to a common user complaint that status updates are not always applicable to all our friends but often to only a subset – I am, for example, different to my family, to those I play sport with, those I know in my local community, those I party with, etc. Groups is intended to be the way in which we can have multiple different circles of friends and communicate separately and differently to each. This should be a good thing; however, Facebook’s implementation is not secure nor private to any group of friends that you control. Already this morning, for those who have had the new feature activated, there are examples of people being added to groups by others without their permission! – this is because any user of a group can add another member. You have no assurance of who is in a group or not, or who will be added later and able to see what you post. We tested this in house, you will eventually find out you’re a member of a group and can then unsubscribe but not before you’re becoming a member has been posted to your wall.
As with data portability, the principle of 100% privacy is a core feature of DAD. We believe that you should be in total control of who sees your status updates, your photos and anything else you share. With DAD no one else can be invited to see your data – you decide who to send stuff to and only they get to see it, direct from you without any ability for it to be intercepted, hacked or inadvertently leaked onto the wider Internet.
In summary a step forward by Facebook yesterday; however, 100% privacy control and data portability principles are not inherent in the Facebook DNA and hence their solutions are at best a sticking plaster on the wounds of those for whose these principles are important.