Facebook Announcement Notes: Launching Friend List Privacy Tonight; Chat in 2 Weeks

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FacebookFacebook just announced new, more robust privacy controls and an upcoming ground-breaking site-wide chat service, this morning in Palo Alto. Here are our notes from this morning’s conversation with Facebook’s Matt Cohler, VP of Product Management, Naomi Gleit, Product Manager for Privacy, and Peter Deng, Product Manager for Chat.

Matt Cohler, VP Product Management

  • We want to develop more personalized ways for people to communicate.
  • Really important to give people right tools to enable people to communicate as much as possible. This means giving users control over their information, what they’re sharing, when sharing, and with whom.
  • As far as the product goes, this means 1) providing powerful, granular privacy tools, and 2) making them very easy to use. Keeping those two principles together is a classic dilemma, and is very important to us at Facebook.
  • Originally, Facebook was only used by US college students – then, it was much easier to introduce product principles to solve that problem (organizing around college networks).
  • Today, we have many more users, types of users, relationships, and types of relationships. We have 67M active users, 2/3 are outside the US – 18 months ago, it was 90% US. The vast majority of users are not US college students now; there’s a great diversity in types of relationships.
  • People put their cell phone on their profile because they understand that they have control over who sees that information.
  • Facebook chat is coming soon…

Facebook Privacy Custom Settings DialogNaomi Gleit, Product Manager, Privacy

  • Tonight we’re launching an updated privacy interface and new privacy options.
  • We’ve redesigned the privacy dashboard – it’s simpler and there’s a standardized blue interface when editing privacy.
  • Facebook privacy is based on social proximity – you can now choose to share information with friends of friends, all friends, some friends, only me, specific networks, everyone on Facebook – and you can exclude friends or friend lists (new).
  • Friend lists are “private groups” of your friends. No one can see the friend lists you make.
  • New Facebook Privacy ModuleToday we’re integrating friend lists and privacy – you can now include or exclude friend lists.
  • We’re also launching new ways to create friend lists. When you share photos with specific friends, you’ll be prompted to save those people as a list list, and when you send or confirm a friend request, you can in-line add friends to one or more friend lists. Social map details like “we hooked up” are now secondary.
  • We’re migrating people you’ve added to your “limited profile” list to a “limited profile” friend list.

Peter Deng, Product Manager, Facebook Chat

  • Facebook chat launching in the coming weeks. We’re opening up a new communication channel and enable real time conversation on the site.
  • Chat UI at the bottom of the browser – present whenever you’re on the site. Shows open chat windows, number of friends online.
  • Can pop out entire chat interface into a separate window. It shows online friend lists and current conversations.
  • If don’t want to be bothered by chats, you can toggle your online/offline status easily.
  • Considering whether or not we will support Jabber. We’re starting with on-site messaging.
  • You can clear your own chat history if you like.
  • Your “online” status icons when you appear throughout the site.


    (video captured by Mark Hendrickson)

Matt Cohler

  • We’re thinking about/working on chat APIs. We want to make Facebook useful across the web, and are still figuring APIs out on a context by context basis. There’s a lot of infrastructural challenges just getting a scalable chat service up and running.
  • Beacon is part of our platform group. We made a mistake by launching it as an “advertising” product instead of a “user” product. It took us too long to make the changes.
  • We think about chat differently than we think about applications – it’s a simple, core way to communicate with your friends.

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