Facebook Grants Users More Data Control

Facebook users will soon have much more control over their information sharing with friends and which applications access their data.

New features include a dashboard allowing users to view all the applications they employ on the social-networking site.

While that should appeal to users seeking control, the dashboard feature might be alarming to developers or Web venues that build their businesses on Facebook’s back — as folks will be able to see what personal data each app uses, and how they use it via the dashboard. If they wish, users will be able to adjust how much personal data apps can use — or delete them completely.

Beyond applications, Facebook has also rolled out an enhanced groups functionality that should help users make sure that grandma and their boss don’t see photos from last weekend’s kegger.

According to Facebook, the site has made it easier to establish a series of small, closed circles — such as users’ families, college buddies or co-workers. Folks can elect to share messages, photos and status updates with whichever groups they choose.

“We’ve long heard that people would find Facebook more useful if it were easier to connect with smaller groups of their friends instead of always sharing with everyone they know,” acknowledged CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a blog post. “Until now, Facebook has made it easy to share with all of your friends or with everyone, but there hasn’t been a simple way to create and maintain a space for sharing with the small communities of people in your life, like your roommates, classmates, co-workers and family.”

Finally, Facebook is introducing a new tool that will enable users to download everything they’ve ever posted to Facebook — including photos, messages and profile information.