Home Reported Upcoming Facebook Features: Good, Obvious, Confusing

Reported Upcoming Facebook Features: Good, Obvious, Confusing

According to a report by Justin Smith at Inside Facebook, the social network is planning to roll out three new features in the first quarter of 2008. The first, privacy filters for friend lists, is a welcome addition that we said needed to be added to the lists. The second, more localized versions of Facebook, is an obvious step to take as the site expands around the world. The third, though, is a bit more confusing: the ability to blast messages to large groups.

Update 1: Friend Lists Privacy Controls

When Facebook launched friend lists last month, we said that they were a good addition, but incomplete without privacy controls. “The feature allows users to create groups of friends and has been seen as a necessary step for Facebook to be able to compete with professional networks like LinkedIn, but Facebook’s implementation seems incomplete,” we wrote. Facebook must “tie in privacy controls to friend lists if they want to seriously appeal to the business networking crowd.”

By adding those controls, Facebook can start to become a serious option for the business networking crowd. Privacy controls, assuming they are finely grained enough (i.e., you can choose specifically which apps to show to specific users, not just “this user can’t see my apps”), will let users basically set up multiple profiles — for example, one for mom and dad (with just basic info and a few tame photos), one for friends (with all the bells and whistles), and one for work (with just contact information, school and work data, and some relevant apps). Even better, I would love to see the ability to keep friend’s actions on your profile separate from each other based on groups. That is, for example, people in group A can only see wall posts of people in group A, people from group B can only see photos posted by people in group B, etcs.

Of the three announcements, this one might be the most important for Facebook in the long term.

Update 2: Facebook in New Languages

Localization is a must for any site that wants to expand to foreign territories. Facebook in new languages is not really a surprise, though Smith is also reporting that Facebook plans to launch a “Translations” app that will encourage users of Facebook to volunteer to translate various Facebook pages for foreign users. That’s an interesting, crowdsourced approach to translating thousands of pages of content and it will be interesting to see how it works.

Update 3: Blast Messages to Large Groups

This is the update that is more perplexing to me. As Smith writes, “Facebook marketers have been banging their head on the wall for a long time because of Facebook’s cap on the size of groups you’re allowed to blast messages to. This has caused many to migrate their group members to Pages, or even other websites, in order to enjoy more robust group communication tools.”

Supposedly, Facebook is planning to remove that cap on group communication, such that administators of groups over 1,000 members will be able to mass message. What confuses me, is why Facebook continues to have both Groups and Pages. They are, more or less, the same tool. The difference, as far as I can tell, is that Pages can use outside applications and have slightly better management tools. Beyond that, there isn’t much to separate the two. So why have both?

And if you are going to have both, at least provide a conversion tool so people can migrate from one to the other! A lot of early Facebook users have built up massive followings using the Groups app, and would love to switch to using Pages, but it is hard to get users to switch. We’re facing a similar dilemma with our ReadWriteWeb group. We feel that Pages might give us more flexibility (albeit, not much more), but leaving our 900+ members behind doesn’t seem like a good idea.

Pages vs. Groups is an example of a redundancy on Facebook that they should fix. Kill Groups or merge the two features together or do something with one that differentiates it from the other.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.