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When Facebook released the revamped groups product yesterday, many people immediately decided to jump in head first. Unfortunately things haven’t been completely smooth sailing.
Facebook Group Membership Is Opt-Out
There have been a number of complaints from users, most significantly that group membership is now opt-out. That means your friends can instantly subscribe you to noisy Facebook groups. If you woke up today and had a bunch of notifications, the main reason is probably that you were subscribed to groups by your friends who thought they were being kind. The problem is that I need to manually go in an unsubscribe from all the notifications I receive from noisy groups because my friends have added to them. This is more work for me to do!
Facebook Group Chat Cant Be Hidden
Yesterday, many users quickly realized that group chat is annoying as hell … especially if you are a member of a large group. Suddenly your browser tab is flashing every couple of seconds to let you know that someone else has posted a message. The only way to shut off a group chat room at this point is to shut off chat all together. In other words, there’s way too much noise. My guess is that Facebook will make it possible to hide a room’s chat at some point.
Conversely, I’ve found that by popping out the Facebook chat it can suddenly become manageable in that you can hide the chat window behind other browsers. Something about this doesn’t feel right though.
Facebook Groups Detract From Other Things
Groups are definitely an extremely valuable product, however the reality is that people can’t consume all the content on Facebook as it exists. The result is that Facebook Pages may end up feeling the brunt of this new product, although we haven’t had enough time to measure the impact. There’s a chance that they won’t detract, but with the amount of time I already spend on Facebook, groups will serve as another way to keep me active.
There’s Definitely Value
Overall I’m actually a big fan of the Facebook groups product, however there are a few downsides to the product that can be pretty annoying. The most significant is that many users feel like some unspoken level of trust was broken when Facebook let other people add them to groups. In one sense this is how Facebook Photo tagging works, yet it was a feature that many people still feel uncomfortable about. What do you think of the new groups product? Have you used it much?