Live From Today's Special Facebook Event

I’m at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, where the social network has invited dozens of press to witness the launch of… something. We’ve learned about at least some of Facebook’s announcements, which may include a redesign (Update: Not Yet.) that makes the site’s UI more consistent with Facebook’s Place pages. But given the number of people in attendance (including members of advocacy organizations like the EFF), we’re expecting much more.

Facebook is livestreaming the event, which you can see above. I’ll also be live blogging my notes.

The setup for today’s event is unusual. There are a half-dozen monitors set around Facebook’s large conference room (which doubles as a cafeteria). And Facebook isn’t allowing anyone to take video footage, which I’m hearing is a first.

10:40AM: Zuckerberg has just taken the stage. “I promise we’re not talking today about what you think we’re talking about”. You may have heard we’ve been in lockdown mode. We had a really intense, 60 day period where people finished all of these things. We had a really productive summer.

Last week you may have seen photos. Got hi-res photos. We’ve also improved Chat. Believe third biggest behind MSN and QQ in China, but only had a few people working on it. So we had a big push where we improved stability, cut back complaints by 60%.

On platform side. Done a lot of changes to groups – oops, games (he may have just let something slip…). App developers have seen a surge in growth.

What we’re actually talking about today: Giving you more control. We want to build a social platform. It’s hard to get this dynamic right, but what’s more challenging is building a platform so you have a set of connections and can bring those connections across all of the applications you want to use in a seamless way.

If you want to play games, then you only want to do that with people who play games. On a running site, only want to share with people who do jogging with you. It’s hard to do a platform that lets you connect across these different things. If we can nail this, then we can enable kind of innovation you see on best platforms.

Over last few years, we’ve been focused on Connect. There are over 1,000,000 sites with Connect.

A lot of times people want a copy with all of their information. Right now there hasn’t been a way to download all the information you’ve put on Facebook (this could be really big — sounds like Data Portability). Have built ‘Download Your Information’. Built on top of your graph API. Allows you download a copy of you information.

Launching a dashboard that shows you all the apps you use, and shows you the last time that app accessed your information. These are two changes that we think are important for giving people control of their information.

Download Your Information

Facebook’s David Recordon has taken the stage. Today FB is starting to roll out ‘Download Your Information’. You go to FB, get to the page from your account settings. Hit the download button and FB will zip up all of your messages, notes, photos, etc. and send you an Email when it’s ready for you to download. You should understand that this is all of your information. Profile info, friend list, wall archive, your photos and videos, your notes, events and messages. Will have a few security hurdles to keep safe.

This is built to be easy for regular people to use. Click it and it will pop open your web browser.

New Application Privacy Dashboard

Dashboard – combines two previously separate screen for managing app privacy settings. You have full control over platform privacy settings as well as a list of apps you’ve used.

Can manage permissions that an app has over time. You can revoke an app’s ability to post to your wall after initially granting it permission. More granular control.

Also a detailed access log that shows all the API calls apps have been making.

“The Biggest Problem”
Zuckerberg has taken the stage again. Says internally they talk about this as the biggest problem in social networking. The basic issue: one of the great things FB has enabled is ability to stay connected with all of their friends. In a lot of contexts helpful to update everyone at once. But in reality, people’s social worlds is broken up into different groups of people — people you grew up with, family, etc. (this sounds a lot like what Google is supposedly working on with Google Me).

Reality is, sending something to ‘Just Friends’ isn’t actually very private. Sometimes you want to just share with a small group of people. Sometimes it’s not just a privacy thing — you just don’t want to send an update to people who might not care about your morning jog. Applicable to other applications in the ecosystem too (Twitter, anyone?).

How do you map out these subgroups? Naive solution is to do something where you have to individually invite people on a per-post basis (like for events). Second naive solution is friend lists. Most we’ve gotten is 5% of people to make a list. Nobody wants to make lists.

Next possible solution: Algorithmic solution. We have a lot of tech around this already — have ‘coefficient’ that has an index for each relationship. But there are limits to algorithmic solutions too. Easy to get it wrong and have devastating effects. Just because you talk to someone a few times doesn’t mean you’re close. Also can be creepy when it’s right: don’t want a list showing that these are the people you’re most interested in. Costs to getting this wrong can be catastrophic. We never show an interface where we show the people we think are closest right at the top.

Social solution. This is what Facebook does right. They gotten people to tag friends in photos instead of having to rely on face recognition. Just need a good UI and get people to do it. If this was UI or algorithm problem someone else would have solved it. But it’s a social problem and that’s why we solved it.

Social Solution:
Want to build best set of tools for people to communicate that’s easy for friends to set up. Have built a whole suite of products around this.

5-10% of people will make groups and invite friends, and they’ll invite all their friends, and then lots of people will be in groups.


A shared space with group chat and email lists.

Product Manager for groups Justin Shaffer (who just joined from Hot Potato) has taken the stage. He’s PM for Groups. Groups are built around how we’re living our lives today.

You  can create groups for family, friends, sports teams. Could post a message to family. Or send an email to people you’re cycling with which works like mailing list. Or group chat if you need a faster response.

Click on a group (which appears in left sidebar) and you’ll see a feed for that group — looks like a News Feed for your group. Also has group chat.

Also releasing Graph API for groups.


VP Product Chris Cox has taken the stage.

Social Design

We feel like there’s a brand new field getting started. First designers for web were print designers. Now you can take classes in human/computer interaction. And we think this is the next step. We’re calling this social design.

For the Questions product: instead of synthesizing, automating, we found a way to help people connect with others who wanted to share their knowledge. Translations: instead of going with algorithms, we found people who wanted to help translate.


Q: Are groups replacing friend lists?

A: No. 5% of people have taken time to make them, so we’ll keep them. But going forward Groups will be by far the biggest way.

A: If you invite someone to a group, everyone else in the group will see who invited whom, so social norms will help govern how this works.

We’re keeping old Groups, but you can’t make them any more.

Even if only 5-10% of people make groups, and each group has 10 people… I think we’ll get 80% coverage at least.

Three privacy settings: Open, closed, and secret.

You’ll be able to quickly invite a group to an event.