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Good Evening

And the big announcement is . . . founder Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook headquarters in founder Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. (Feb. 5, 2007) Credit: AP

As advertised, Facebook unveiled something "new" Wednesday afternoon from its California headquarters.

The announcement, made by Mark Zuckerberg and a trio of product managers, was for three new products that will be added as part of Facebook's "social media platform."

Were we in California? Of course not! But the conference was announced over Facebook Live for all to see. (You can see a very-abridged version below.)

The first two products dealt with identity protection: "Download your information" and "Applications you use."

Each product is as simple as its name suggests. With "Download your information," users can access a link through their account settings to do just that -- download all of their personal information stored on the website.

After users request their personal info, Facebook sends an e-mail with a ZIP file containing the requested info. Yes, everything from wall posts to event RSVPs.

On the surface, it seems a little redundant. After all, you can navigate your browser to and get that information pretty easily. Time will tell what other functions this might serve, other than just encouraging people to create another file with immense amounts of personal info.

"Applications you use" looks like an impressive addition: a dashboard showing the applications users have allowed to access their information. Users can also see how the applications are using their information, and when the last time was that an application used said info.

Look at this as a sort of watchdog feature set up by Facebook. Users will probably take more care in allowing access to their personal information, and applications might be more mindful of how often they access information they were given.

The final product, which Zuckerberg went much further into detail on, is Facebook Groups. Basically, the product builds on the existing Groups feature to encouraging discussion among common members of a social web.

In other words, you create a family group, a co-workers group, a Jets fans group, and then invite your family, co-workers and fellow Jets fans to the appropriate groups. That way, correspondence can occur within sub-webs of your giant social web, allowing you to filter family matters to your family, and Monday-morning quarterbacking to fellow football fans.

Similarly to lists, it remains to be seen how easily this feature will be embraced. Anything that takes effort on the user's part is always a crapshoot. Will people take the time to invite friends to these groups, or will they be ignored?

Many users will be reliant upon their friends to jumpstart the feature. Once groups are built, inviting new group members is as easy inviting people to events; the problem is just taking that first, arduous step of actually creating the group. 

Are we saying that it is difficult to create a group for your family? Absolutely not. But is it difficult to create a friends list on Facebook? No, but becuase it takes more than one click of a button, people are reluctant to use it.

Part of the feature also includes group chat. Instead of chatting with only one of your Facebook friends, you'll be able to have a conversation with everyone in your family group.

Zuckerberg opened the proceedings discussing the past 60 days at Facebook, two months he coined as a "lockdown" period. According to the company's chief executive, project managers and developers took the time to work "super hard" round-the-clock on developing new products for Facebook. Zuckerberg noted that the point of this was to continue building out Facebook as a social media "platform" rather than a social media "application." 

It was a bit of a jab at websites like, say, Twitter, which is more of a linear status update service that can only link to images, videos and other multimedia content. Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be more of a hub, roping in status updates, photos, videos, events and more. Of course, the website already does this -- perhaps it was a friendly reminder to everybody that is where their sites are still set.

As for viewership throughout the event, when Zuckerberg took the mic shortly before 1:40 p.m., about 5,000 people were watching the live stream via Facebook's Live application. The peak viewership was more than 10,000, when Zuckerberg was discussing the groups feature.

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