Facebook to Fully Deprecate Regional Networks by September 30

Although Facebook said back in June that regional networks would be deprecated at some point, it didn’t give a specific date at the time. Recently, however, the company said that regional networks will be completely removed from the site by September 30.

Back when Facebook expanded from a college-only network to being open to anyone in 2006, it introduced the concept of “regional networks” to let users share more information about other people in the city or country they live in. Some default privacy settings for profile page content were set to a user’s regional network, and Facebook created network pages for people in the same areas to connect.

However, regional networks never really worked out. Because there was no way to verify users’ physical location, regional networks never became a useful privacy filter. And since regional networks often contained hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people, the network hub pages were some of the most heavily spammed areas on Facebook.

So over a year ago, Facebook removed the network pages and network tab from the top of Facebook. And now, Facebook says they will be eliminating the concept of regional networks from the site altogether soon. Nevertheless, some users are upset, because regional networks were an effective way to find friends in geographic locations – Facebook needs to make it possible for users to still do so somehow after the change.

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The change will have the following effects:

  1. Regional network filters will no longer be available in the home page stream (Facebook says few people were using them anyway).
  2. For developers, getStandardInfo and getUserInfo will now return current_location for location information. However, corporate and educational networks will still be returned for affiliations.
  3. Regional networks will no longer appear in privacy settings (though you can still share content with everyone or a school or work network).
  4. Groups or events that are only open to members of regional networks will now be open to everyone.
  5. If your current regional network is a city, that information will be moved to the “Current City” field of your profile.
  6. If your current regional network is a region, a new “Current Region” field will be listed on your profile.

This change will actually make a lot of information shared on Facebook more private, as many users left their profile privacy settings open to regional networks that probably allowed more people than they intended to access their profile and photos. Now, the concept of regional networks will be gone altogether, leaving school and work networks – both of which must be verified through a company or school email address – in tact.