Ahead of f8, Facebook tidies up the platform

Ronny Kerr · August 29, 2011 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/1e50

Bigger and faster photos, the end of Deals and Places, and tighter privacy controls

Facebook last week finally announced details regarding f8, the social network’s yearly conference for developers and entrepreneurs. With the event already less than a month away, I thought it would be fitting to round up the three biggest changes to come to Facebook’s platform in the past week.

“Bigger, Faster Photos”

Reporting that over 250 million photos are uploaded to the site daily, product manager Justin Shaffer calls photo sharing “one of the most popular activities on Facebook.” Indeed, it’s those kinds of numbers that cement Facebook as the number one photo sharing site on the Web.

On Friday, two changes came to Facebook Photos.

Above is a representation of the first change, which means that users can now upload photos with a maximum width of 960 pixels. Back in March 2010, Facebook upped the maximum size from 604 pixels to 720 pixels. This newest change is even more drastic.

Bigger media doesn’t have to come with a slowdown, however. Incredibly, Shaffer says photos will now “load twice as fast.”

Expanding upon the launch of its photo viewer last fall, Facebook rehauled the viewer with a “cleaner interface” intended to return focus to the photo. That is, instead of surrounding photos with a stark black frame, photos will now be enclosed by a wispy white frame, allowing some of the previous page to be seen in the background.

Both the larger photo dimensions and new photo viewer are gradually rolling out to users.

R.I.P: Deals and Places

Just four months after launching Facebook Deals as a rival to Groupon, LivingSocial and their millions of clones, Facebook has cut off the daily deals program. The service was first tested in a handful of cities with 11 partners, including Gilt City, Opentable and ReachLocal.

The decision certainly doesn’t say Facebook has no interest in serving local businesses nor is it necessarily a criticism of the daily deals model.

"We think there is a lot of power in a social approach to driving people into local businesses," said Facebook in a statement posted by Reuters. "We've learned a lot from our test and we'll continue to evaluate how to best serve local businesses."

In addition to Deals, Facebook has also said that it will be phasing out Places, at least as a standalone “check-in service.” While it’s clear that location, attached to a status update or otherwise, will always play an important role in social networking, Facebook simply decided that the check-in wasn’t pertinent to its service.

In the same way that the death of Deals is a good thing for Groupon, the death of Places is great for foursquare. Now those companies have more room to breathe.

Who can see this?

It shouldn’t be such a complicated thing to know which of your connections can see a status update, photo, link or any other item that can be shared on Facebook. But, for the longest time, it was.

As promised months ago, Facebook finally started rolling out powerful granular controls that allow users to see, at every step of sharing, who can see their content. Users also have much more control over how they’re tagged--in photos and at locations.

Click here to read about the sweeping changes currently coming to Facebook.

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