Facebook unveils new groups feature
Improved groups, better application management and the ability to download your own data are among several changes announced by Facebook.
Facebook says its new features will give users more control over their data on the social networking site.
These include the ability for users to download a backup of all of their Facebook data, improved application management so that users know what permissions they have given to each app and a new groups system that would allow users to share information only with those to whom it would be relevant.
Facebook's new groups include group messaging, mailing lists and even shared documents.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, said the aim was to allow people to send information to small groups, rather than to all of their contacts at once.
Zuckerberg said that one of the key problems for social networks is the ability to share information with different groups of people.
He said that while some networks attempted to solve this problem with lists or by inviting users to groups, these were "naive" solutions and likely to be ineffective.
He said that Facebook explored an algorithmic solution that indexed each user's social network and looked for clusters of friends but admitted that this could be wrong too.
Instead, Zuckerberg said Facebook was introducing Groups so that people could talk to, and share information, with each other.
He said that although only a small proportion of users would create these groups, they would effectively be allowing all of their friends to benefit from their efforts.
Announcing the changes at the website's headquarters in California, Zuckerberg said that his team had been in "lockdown" mode for the last 60 days to get these changes right and that there were more announcements planned for the coming months.
Technology bloggers had been speculating for days about the content of today's announcement.
Some expected Facebook to announce its own mobile handset, while others predicted a new 'Facebook toolbar' that would allow people to access the site from any web page.
The most common prediction, however, was that Facebook was about to undergo a major redesign.