Facebook is rolling out a new feature that makes it simpler for developers to assign multiple people to a role within one or more apps. In the Roles section of the Developer app, every member of a selected Facebook Group can be simultaneously assigned to a role: Developer, Administrator, Tester, or Insights User. This will make it significantly faster to add sets of team members to a role within multiple apps. It will also familiarize developers with Facebook Groups which could encourage them to use the microsharing tool both professionally and socially.
The Groups product was released in October to help users share with specific subsets of their friends. Application roles were introduced in January to improve app security by allowing developers to give certain team members limited privileges rather than full access to edit or even delete their app.
Now these features have been combined and developers will gain access to the new Developer Groups tool over the next few weeks. To use it, developers can go to the Roles section of the Developer app and click the “Add” link next to one of the role types. They’ll then be given the option to add an existing closed or private group of people to that role, or create a new Group within that role that can also be reused later.
Adding a Group to a role will generate a post to that Group and notify its members. Note that only closed or private Groups can be used to assign roles, not open groups, because otherwise unauthorized users could add themselves to a role-assigned Group and gain access to the corresponding privileges in the application.
Along with speeding up role assignment, Developer Groups may be intended to increase usage of the Groups feature in general by exposing it to more Facebook power users. In April Facebook said 50 million Groups had been created, and in July it said 50% of all users were in a Group and that the average Group had seven members.
While these are impressive stats, Facebook probably still wants higher penetration. The nature of Groups is such that one user often does the legwork of creating a Group and inviting friends, and then all members get to benefit. By making usage of Groups a component of application management, Facebook can expose the feature to developers. These people are probably more likely to be Facebook power users, and therefore be willing to take the time to create and populate Groups, increasing overall usage.