Facebook recently enhanced its Groups feature – as is the case with many enhancements, the new feature also comes with a few potential problems.
What’s changed in Facebook Groups? Essentially, now any of your friends can add you to a Group – you need not agree or opt in to be added. The idea behind this feature was to allow users to create subgroups within their Facebook friends so that you could share some information with select sets of friends and not necessarily all of your friends. This ability has been available in Facebook through the use of Lists, but most users have no idea that feature exists, or how to use it. Groups have 3 levels of privacy available – Open, Closed and Secret.
I think allowing Facebook users more control over what information is shared with which friends is a great idea. Being able to separate out posts for friends, family and co-workers just makes sense.
Reaction to this new feature has been mixed. There have been the expected cries about privacy – and I see where these folks are coming from on that. I really don’t want anyone adding me to a group without my consent… When you are added to a group (either by doing it yourself or having someone add you) it generates a news item that goes into your feed and spreads across your network (unless the group is secret). For me, it just adds one more thing to have to monitor – not exactly an enhancement for a casual user like me.
You can’t opt out of this feature either – there is no mechanism to have your default setting be that no one can add you to a group. See Facebook’s Help Answer here.
And then there are the marketing possibilities – imagine organizations and companies creating groups and tapping some of your friends to be part of them. Before you know it, you could be added to quite a few of these purely marketing groups… See this article on Yahoo! for more.
Is this feature a major concern level issue? Probably not. But it certainly has the potential to make Facebook more frustrating to use. One of Facebook’s recommendations to help make sure you don’t have people adding you to groups you don’t want to be added to is to be careful whom you choose to friend… easier said than done. Interesting too, since several of Facebook’s other changes in the past year have been encouraging users to share more and more information with more and more people.
What do you think? Will this change the way you use Facebook? Does it even matter at this point?