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BLOG: Facebook’s New Group Feature

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Digital Journalist Nicole Brewer

Digital Journalist Nicole Brewer

nicole-brewer-web Nicole Brewer
Nicole Brewer joined CBS 3 and The CW Philly’s Eyewitness News tea...
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced quite a few new features to the social networking site this week.

First, a tool called ‘Download Your Information,’ which allows users to download photos, status updates and wall posts from the site.

Second, a dashboard, which shows how long its been since you’ve used certain applications and allows you to easily delete those you no longer want or need.

But, the most significant and controversial addition is ‘Groups,’ a feature which allows users to “tag” and add a friend to a certain subgroup of friends. This allows you to share select information (photos, status updates, events, etc.) with certain people.

So, let’s say you’re attending a killer party on a Thursday night and you’d rather your co-workers *not see* that you were out til’ 3AM. Now, you can decide which friends gain insight into your wild ways.

Sounds like a great idea, right?

In many ways, yes. In other ways, no.

As TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington and tech entrepreneur Jason Calacanis found out, this feature can lead to some unwanted categorization. 

The most obvious problem? Requiring users to “opt out” of a group rather than “opt in.” That means anyone can set up a Facebook group and the people they select can invite their friends as well. The group can be made public, which means other users will be able to see which members belong to a particular category.

So, as Facebook begins to roll out this feature (you can access it by going to facebook.com/groups), here are the most important things to consider:

1) Anyone on your friend list can add you to a group … and they can call it whatever they want.

2) Once you create a group, the friends you’ve selected can invite any of their friends into the group as well.

3) When creating a new group, the default option is “closed,” which means members are public, and content is private. But, users do have the option to make it “open,” which means members and content are public.

4) The group administrator can delete or ban members from the group.

5) Once you “opt out” of a group, Facebook forever blocks the creator from adding you to another group.

Hope this helps you navigate the new features on Facebook. And while you’re there, be sure to stop by and say hello!

–Nicole Brewer, Digital Journalist

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