This afternoon Facebook officially rolled out “Community Pages”, a new form of Facebook Page which is not managed by a specific user but instead by the entire community. It’s also a much more structured version of what Twitter has called the public interest graph. Twitter and Facebook are clearly in a race to structure the world’s data as it’s connected to individuals. Any object, anywhere. Facebook’s solution to tracking these things is a new “like” button.
While some have speculated about the service providing more search engine optimization for the company, the broader part of this is more effective targeting and more detailed information about the site’s users. This information can then be used in future data streams (such as the “public like stream” that I alluded to earlier today).
New Half-Functional Privacy Settings
In addition to launching these new “Community Pages”, the company has introduced new privacy settings which enable users to control which of their interests are visible to their friends, family, and other friend lists. These privacy settings control the visibility of interests with the profile, however the fact that you have a specific interest or connection may become visible from that connection’s page. Confused? Understandable.
This marks a fundamental shift in Facebook’s privacy settings. Typically Facebook wanted to enable users to control the visibility of every aspect of their profile, but now they state the following:
The “Friends, Tags, and Connections” section on the Privacy Settings page lets you control whether the content in this section will appear on your profile. However, since the information in this section is jointly owned with others (i.e., another friend or a community on Facebook), these privacy settings only govern what others see on your profile. For example, if you’ve connected to a Page for your school, you can hide this section on your profile, but you might still appear on the Page itself as someone who has connected to the Page or posted on its Wall. Applications you and your friends use also have access to your connections.
While there are still steps you can take to protect your privacy, doing so on Facebook has become much more confusing. The new implementation is definitely a logical one, however Facebook’s changes will result in more confused users. We’ll have a more thorough overview of Community Pages and the Open Graph API over the coming days.