Facebook’s new Groups product is not a stand-alone feature, but instead integrates with existing features across Facebook. Here’s how Groups interacts with the news feed, Chat, profiles, Pages, search, Events, the old groups feature, privacy, notifications, and mobile browsers.
Facebook’s content publisher now includes Groups as distribution parameters for sharing. This way, users can set a news feed status update, photo, video, or link to only be visible to members of a single Group. When a user posts to their feed with a Group as the distribution parameter, all Group members will get a notification stating [Group member] posted in [Group Name]. Members will see a story in their news feed similar to wall post stories stating “[Group Member] > [Group name]: [content of the post]”.
If a user is tagged in a post to Group they’re a member of, they’ll receive notifications of future Likes and comments to that posts. If a user isn’t tagged, they can hit a “Subscribe” button on the story to receive notifications of future activity to the post. Users will also see a number of new news feed stories pertaining to Groups, including those they’re not members of, such as “[Friend Names] were added to [Group name] by [User name]”, and stories detailing Events hosted by a Group.
Users can’t select a Group as a recipient of a chat from the Facebook home page. Instead, users must access a Group from the home page’s left navigation sidebar, and click the “Chat with Group” link in the top right corner of the screen. Users will then see a chat window pop up at the bottom of their screen, with a row of profile picture thumbnails of Group members who are currently online at the top of the Chat window. Those actively online show a green square in the bottom right of their picture, while inactive but online members show grey-blue square. There’s no word yet on Group Chat will integrate with existing third-party instant messaging clients.
Profiles and Pages
User profiles never show any Group information. Even if a Group is open, you and another user are friends and are both members of the same Group, you won’t see their Group affiliation in their profile info, nor will you see stories about their activity within the Group on their wall. All Groups, regardless of visibility setting, are only visible through Facebook search to Group members. Pages do not integrate with Groups at all. Pages cannot be added to Groups, set Groups as distribution parameters for their updates, or tag Groups in updates.
Facebook Events created from the home page or Events page currently cannot select a Group as a set of people to invite. However, Events are an option in the Groups publisher, allowing users to create an Event hosted by their Group. Additional non-Group members can be invited to the Group Event once it has been created. Group Events appear in the hosting Group’s right sidebar Events panel. Comments made to an Event hosted by a Group will not appear in the Group’s feed.
While the new Groups product in many ways replaces the old groups feature for communicating with a set of friends, old groups won’t be deleted. Users can navigate to their old groups by clicking “More” on the Facebook home page’s left navigation sidebar panel for Groups, then clicking “See All”. Once on the Groups Home Page, users can click “Show Older” to reveal their old groups. Currently there is no way to convert old groups into new Groups. Once a user has full access to the new Groups product via the home page’s left sidebar, they’ll no longer be able to create old groups.
The Groups product does not appear in a Facebook user’s privacy settings. Users can only go into Groups they are the creator of, click Edit Group, and change the privacy setting to either Open (Group name, members, and content visible to everyone), Closed (Group name and members visible to everyone, content visible only to members), or Secret (Group name, members, and content visible only to Group members).
Users can set what actions will generate notifications across all their Groups by going to Account->Account Settings->Notifications. Email settings for individual Groups can be changed using a link at the bottom of the Groups Notification settings. Users can also go into each Group they’re a member of and click the “Edit Notifications” button in the top right corner to decide what actions in that specific Group will generate notifications, and what email address these notifications will be sent to.
Mobile Browsers and Apps
Users can access Groups via m.facebook.com through a navigation link at the bottom of the home page. This brings up a list of a user’s Groups, both new and old. Users can tell if they’re viewing a new Group because it will say “Group” in bold above the update input field, oppose to “Wall” in old groups. From new Groups users can post and read existing posts, as well as view the description, privacy setting, and other Group members. There is currently no support for Groups in the Facebook for iPhone app.