This time, instead of taking the full brunt of users ire, by suddenly opening up sharing of information previously thought private, Facebook has taken a different tack. With a history of shepherding people toward comfortably sharing thoughts and pictures with more people than ever before, Facebook has just announced updates to how users can share, which draws comparisons to the Google Plus "Circles" sharing structure. A reaction to the apparent quick adoption of Google Plus, or the result of changes that were already underway at Facebook? Hard to say. But some of the more interesting updates are to "tagging", which sounds like something Facebook has probably been working on long before Google Plus debuted.
The updates to the "tagging" functionality allow you to "review" photos and posts you've been "tagged" in by friends, to make sure they are "Safe for Work" or "Safe for Parents". Looks like Facebook had heard enough feedback from people suffering the "Last Friday Night" blues on Monday morning, and made some pretty tangible tweaks. In what people are describing as the fight for users between Google Plus and Facebook, this may help convince some "slow to the Facebook party" people to finally join the still largest online social network, if they feel they will have "more control" over oversharing by other people.
Facebook has also started to allow people to share only with certain "groups" of people. Now that Google Plus is out there, this may look like a response to "Circles", but there's no denying that certain Facebook users will find this a major improvement. Some users with lots of friends may have found it useful to group their friends into "groups", so as to more easily find them, or email them. But that was about the extent of their use. Now it looks like Facebook has programmed the ability to share only with those groups of people, if a user so desires. Whether people decide to create and use those groups is another question, but it might help some users feel like they have more "control".
What does this do to Facebook's databases of "user provided information" garnered from open sharing? Well, those people who are comfortable with sharing will probably still continue to do it, and Facebook will continue to use that information to monetize. And there's no denying that users derive a benefit from sharing certain information, and that Facebook has provided them a great portal in which to do so. And there's no reason that any of that should stop. Advertising on Facebook should still be quite beneficial to advertisers, as people will probably continue to share information about what they buy, and where they go. These finer tuned controls will probably simply help cut down on the more embarrassing moments, that didn't really serve anybody very well, and make a lot of people feel more comfortable about sharing the less personal information that advertisers are more interested in.