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Facebook unveils changes to enhance privacy

Groups: Now with more user control

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Facebook on Wednesday rolled out new features designed to make people feel more comfortable putting photos, videos, and other personal data online.

In a blog post, CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled an overhauled version of Facebook Groups that allows users to share certain content with select people, rather than with everyone listed as a friend. Vacation photos, for instance, might be shared only family members and a team rosters might be shared only with other members of one's Fantasy Football league. It was one of three features Zuckerberg announced.

“We've heard loud and clear that you want more control over what you share on Facebook – to manage exactly who sees it and to understand exactly where it goes,” Zuckerberg wrote. “With this new Groups experience and the other tools we're rolling out today, we're taking a few important steps forward towards giving you precise controls.”

Also unveiled was a new dashboard that tells users at a glance how various Facebook apps are using their data. The panel shows all the apps a user has authorized, what data they use and when the data was last accessed.

Zuckerberg also said Facebook was adding a tool that allows users to download everything they've ever posted to the social networking site. The photos, wall posts, and other content is archived in a zip file that is downloaded only after a user has entered a password and answered “appropriate security questions.”

The changes are better than nothing, but it wouldn't be surprising to find that hackers or courts of law make mincemeat of the finer-grained sharing controls. As we've said before if it's not something you want shared with world+dog, you probably shouldn't put it online.

Facebook will begin rolling out the features later on Wednesday. ®

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