Help file: Facebook's new 'Groups'; Mac screens
Saturday, October 9, 2010; 6:37 PM
Q: Facebook's new "Groups" feature looks like a privacy risk. Is it?
A: The name of the new networking feature Facebook introduced on Wednesday invites a certain amount of confusion.
Under its old system of groups-still available-nobody else can add you to a group. The new option, however, lets friends enroll you; if you'd rather they had left you out, you can leave the group by clicking an "unsubscribe" link.
The idea here is to make it easy for circles of friends to set up their own private channels of communication--by default, anything shared in one of these new groups is invisible to outsiders. But since your membership in a group is normally visible to all of your other Facebook friends, this system can be exploited for pranks or worse.
The closest analogy is how Facebook friends can tag you in a photo or video; there, too, you only know you've been spotlighted after the fact.
One way to avoid trouble is to choose your Facebook friends wisely instead of accepting friend requests from random people or those you barely know.
But Facebook could help users by providing the same privacy controls for group membership as for photo and video tagging. Just as you can control who else sees those tagged items, you should also be able to limit who can see your group memberships.
(The same disclaimer as ever applies: Post Co. chairman and chief executive officer Donald E. Graham sits on Facebook's board of directors, and the newspaper and Post staffers use Facebook for marketing purposes.)
Q: Why would my Mac's screen have randomly magnified itself?
A: You accidentally typed a shortcut command (Option-Command-=) to zoom into the screen, an "accessibility" option for visually-impaired users. To undo that, hold down the Option, Command and minus-sign keys to zoom back out. And to disable this shortcut, open System Preferences and select Universal Access.