Facebook Lets Group Members Opt Out of Group Chat

Facebook users can now opt out of receiving Group Chat messages on a Group-by-Group basis. Also, the interface for selecting whose actions within a Group send a user notifications has been changed from a radio button to a drop-down menu. The launch of the ability to decline Group Chat was announced in the form of answers by Facebook Groups team members Andrew Bosworth and Feross Aboukhadijeh to a Quora question. The option is accessible through the “Edit Settings” button on Group’s page.

Facebook launched Groups in early October, and made its first round of updates to the feature a few days later, changing the name of the “Edit Notifications” button to “Edit Settings”, added a Group’s email address to it’s page header, and allowed users to opt out of a home page navigation bookmark for that Group.

Group Chat allows any Group member to send all the other members of the Group who are online a Chat message simultaneously. However, in especially large Groups or ones where members are less considerate of others, Group Chat messages can come in frequently and be distracting. Bosworth asked “If people don’t want to chat with a group, why are they a part of that group? Do they find it valuable or should the(sic) re-evaluate? Surely, at any given time we might not be inclined to chat but if you never want to chat I think that says something.” However, in response to feedback, the team added the feature, allowing users to only interact with a Group when on that Group’s page.

When users click the “Edit Settings” button in the top right of a Group page, they’ll see a checkbox for “send me group chat messages” which can be unchecked to opt out of Chat with that Group. As before, users can temporarily decline Group Chat messages while on Facebook by signing out of Chat in the lower right hand corner of their screen.

As Facebook watches how Groups are used and abused, it discovers the need for options like this which reduce noise and keep inconsiderate member from pushing others to leave or mute the Group’s notifications. VP of Product Chris Cox and CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained that Facebook hopes to use social design, where “the interactions of one person with the product affect and organize the interactions of the people around them” to “socially regulate” Groups. However, if users aren’t proactively setting norms and discouraging or removing Group members who send irrelevant Group Chat messages, Facebook will need to step in with a product solution like this.