Thursday, October 07, 2010

New Group System for Facebook

FacebookDo you just feel the dire need to let all your closest Facebook friends how your most recent trip to the snack machine went? Do you also want to do this without bugging the other 300 people on your friends list? Well, then the newly revamped Groups feature on Facebook is the perfect app for you.

Unveiled at the headquarters of Facebook in Palo Alto, California on Wednesday, the new Groups feature allows you to create a virtual social "space" for a subset group of your friends on Facebook which can include anywhere from a few to a few hundred friends.

According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the new groups will be set to "closed" by default. Creating a new group is a simple matter of adding selected friends who, in turn, can add some of their friends to your virtual Facebook community. But don't fret about strangers invading your community. Anybody who gets added by another person will have their name as well as the name of the person who added them via an information panel.

Now you may be asking yourself what you can do once you have created a Facebook Group. Well there are the obvious things like posting group-specific updates or writing on the wall or sharing pics and videos.

You can also do a lot of other cooler, more interesting things like creating and editing group documents or engaging in real-time group chats, which is a first for Facebook. Users can also send an e-mail to the entire group using a custom e-mail address.

The new Facebook Groups rolled out yesterday and replaced the current public Groups functionality that you could previously restrict only to a Facebook network. On the flip side, existing groups will continue to exist as well as the Friends List that you can create from the left-hand tool bar.

What all this basically means is the same kind of virtual workspace you might find on an office intranet or the failed Google Wave, for example. Instead of collaborating on projects, Facebook users will be using Groups to collaborate, socially that is.

Zuckerberg said that Groups was revamped in order to address what he called the "biggest problem in social networking". This is mainly trying to organize all your various friends on Facebook into certain, specific social groups. The current Facebook Friends List feature was intended to assist users in creating such groups. However, only about 5% of Facebook users have actually created a Friends List.

An additional option was to create an algorithm which would automatically herd your friends into groups. However, such a technical solution could easily make some huge mistakes. Or it could quite possibly work all too well.

According to Zuckerberg, "Allowing Facebook users to create their own groups, with new members able to add their own friends, seemed like the most appropriate solution."

The real question is whether or not Facebook users will take to the new feature. It is a good thing to see that the Groups list will be set to "closed" by default, but the fact that any group member can add somebody to the group could cause some problems. However, the thought of creating a small group of close friends is cool, especially when you want to share something that may be too much for the four billion friends you have on Facebook.
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