If you've been on Facebook lately, you might have noticed that they have launched a new version of Groups. News of this has been spreading quickly, and for good reason: this newest version of Facebook Groups is giving users functionality that they’ve never seen before.
The redesigned Groups allow users to essentially build a space dedicated entirely to a group of people, whether it’s their soccer team, family, high school class or book club. Once a Group is created, members can be invited and information can be easily shared among them.
Enough already, how does it actually work?
The new Groups are, by default, closed, meaning anything posted in the group is only visible to the people in it; however, users are also able to designate a new Group “open,” in that members and content are public, or “secret,” where members and content are completely private.
And gone are the days when the group administrator held all the power. Now, all updates (including posts, links, photos, videos, events and, yes, even documents—more on that later) to a Group generate notifications and result in emails being sent to all members. As a result, control of the group is now spread amongst members instead of focusing on only one or two administrators. Via the Group settings, each member can determine how and when (or if) they would like to be notified of happenings in the Group.
Facebook has also introduced the ability to post and share Docs in the Group. Although it only accommodates basic text documents, documents have a revision history which users can navigate back through. While this is no Google Docs product in terms of robustness, it’s definitely a useful feature.
And finally, the feature you have been waiting for (and the one which Facebook states was the most requested): Group Chat.
Until now, users were only able to Facebook chat with one person at a time. Now, all members of the Group have the ability to participate in a single chat window, meaning that Facebook officially offers “chat rooms.” What’s the difference between these Group chats and the ones we used to use on AOL? Well, for one, a user’s identity is no longer a secret. Users are now posting under their real names instead of a screen name. And secondly, depending on the size of a Group, the Group chat could be pretty ginormous. The word is that Group chats max out at about 250 people, but that’s yet to be confirmed. Either way, Group chat is certainly a great feature and one that Facebook has needed to introduce for a while.
So, well done, Facebook. It appears that new Groups surpassed many expectations and will prove to be a well utilized and much appreciated new feature. What do you think?