Facebook for Android v1.4 Mobile App Includes Places and Groups, but Still Lags Behind iPhone

The latest version of the Facebook for Android mobile application reduces the functionality gap between Google’s younger OS and the iOS by adding new features Places and Groups. However, some core features such as Chat and push notifications are still missing, leading many Android users to feel neglected or ignored by the app’s development team.

The Facebook for Android v1.4 follows the August v1.3 update which added the ability to respond to friend requests and Event invites, video playback, a redesigned home page, and a photo carousel which is unique to Android.

The most recent release might have come sooner, but Facebook said at its mobile event that Google bought the company it was outsourcing development of the app to at the last minute. Single sign-on, allowing other Facebook-integrated Android apps to piggyback on a user’s login to the Facebook for Android app, was also announced at the mobile event. However, neither Facebook Deals nor the new Messages product appear to be supported.

The features added in v1.4 run smoothly. Groups, accessible through a home page icon, lets users see a list of their Groups with counters denoting unread posts. Users can read posts, share to a Group’s feed, and see a Group’s members.

Places can only be accessed from its home page icon, and there is no option to check in through the news feed. Users can view check-ins of friends, choose a nearby Place to check in to, and tag friends, similar to the first Facebook for iPhone release with Places.

However, v1.4 doesn’t include second generation Places functionalities such as being able to add a photo to a check-in, or tag additional friends after the check-in has been made, which are available in the latest Facebook for iPhone 3.3.1.

Users now see notifications about comments and updates which link to that activity within the app. High resolution photo uploads are also supported in this release.

Along with the lack of Facebook Deals, users must still use external apps such as Go!Chat to instant message with their Facebook friends. This is a major gripe amongst Android users, with hundreds pleading for Chat on the Facebook for Android Page where the updates to the app are announced. The other significant deficiency is the lack of push notifications, meaning users must constantly open the app to check for new notifications.

Facebook was slow to begin developing an app for the Android OS. The company may still be throttling feature releases to handicap Google, which it has clashed with recently over data portability, and could be competing with when Google’s social product is eventually released. In the meantime, Facebook for Android users are still a step behind iPhone users, but should take comfort in knowing they’re stil better off than those with Blackberry or Palm devices.

Facebook Removes Bookmark for Old Groups, Adds Recently Updated Section for New Groups

As part of Facebook’s continuing deprecation of the its old groups product in the wake of the launch of new Groups, the home page left sidebar navigation bookmark to old groups has been removed. Users could previously click this bookmark to reveal links to their old groups, but now must visit the Groups page to see the new Groups and old groups they are a member of. Since posts to old groups do not appear in the news feed, the removal of this bookmark could lead users to forget about their old groups all together.

Facebook has also updated the Groups page to include a “Recently Updated” section showing counters next to a user’s new Groups which have posts they haven’t read. Old groups do not appear in the section when posted to.

At the new Groups launch event, Facebook announced that old groups would not gain new functionality, could not be converted into new Groups, and users would no longer be able to create them. Earlier this year, Facebook removed the list of groups a user was a member of from the profile info page, preventing old groups from growing in this way.

Now when users view their navigation bookmarks in the bottom section of the home page’s left sidebar above “Friends on Chat”, they won’t see a bookmark for old groups amongst those for third-party apps and other in-house apps like Photos, Notes, and Links. The only way users can access their old groups is through search, activity links on their wall, or through the Groups page.

Users can navigate to the Groups page by clicking “See All” at the bottom of the Groups bookmarks section in the middle of the home page’s left sidebar, beneath “Friends” and above the third-party and secondary in-house apps bookmarks section. Users must then look for the group links without profile pictures at the bottom of the My Groups section, sometimes hidden beneath the “Show Older” fold. Clicking these links leads to a user’s old groups, where they can post to the wall, but do little else.

The “Recently Updated” section borrows the counter design from the new Application and Game Requests bookmark system. Users can get the same information about new posts from the counters on the Groups bookmarks on the home page, so this new section is more convenient than essential. The Groups page also shows invitations to old groups.

With the implementation of community Pages and the new Groups product, old groups have little place on Facebook anymore. Therefore its sensible to remove navigation links to them. However, even if Facebook removes all the links, expect users to paste saved URLs of groups into their browsers until Facebook actually deletes those protest and world record groups.

“Member Suggestions” Module Recommends Friends to Add to your Facebook Groups

Facebook is using a new “Member Suggestions” right sidebar module to recommend friends to add to your currently viewed Group. The module displays users who are friends with many of the Group’s existing members, but may have been accidentally left out. The feature should help keep Groups growing, preventing their membership from stagnating after the initial wave of additions.

Just prior to releasing the Groups feature in early October, Facebook updated its Friend Lists product with suggestions of users to add to a currently viewed list. Those suggestions were based on a user sharing similar demographic or interest characteristics with existing list members, such as a shared hometown or employer. Its unclear if Member Suggestions might similarly suggest users who share attributes other than friendships with Group members.

While users are browsing a Group they are a member of, they’ll see the Member Suggestions module in the right sidebar below Docs but above the advertisements. The module shows a user’s name, profile pic, the number of current Group members who they are friends with, and an”Add friend to Group” link, which instantly admits them using the confirmation-less system. As with all new member admissions, a story is published to the Group’s feed stating who added who to the Group.

When Groups was first released, many users flocked to create them and add numerous friends. Friends not added during this initial phase may never have been admitted. If the Group has the secret privacy setting, those users would be unable to find the Group to request admission. Since new friends may join a clique after it’s Group has been created, Member Suggestions should serve to fill out these holes in Group membership.

Facebook for iPhone 3.3.1 Includes Groups, Deals, Photo Check-Ins

Version 3.3.1 of Facebook for iPhone brings Groups, Deals, and enhanced Places functionality to the most popular Facebook mobile app. Released today, the app allows users to post to Groups and read Group feeds, add photos and tag additional friends to an existing check-in, and discover rewards Deals offered at local Places.

Facebook last made a major update to its iPhone app when it launched Places, and fixed a few bugs with a release in September. When Groups was launched last month, the only mobile way to access the feature was through m.facebook.com, which has now changed. Details about the new Deals feature leaked a few days ago, but today Facebook walked members of the press through how it businesses can use it to incentivize check-ins.

Groups

Users will immediately see evidence of the update upon launching Facebook for iPhone Version 3.3.1. The Requests icon has been removed from the home screen, with friend requests now appearing in a tab within the Friends icon. Requests is replaced with a Groups icon. When tapped, users will see a list of all the Groups they’re a member of, with counts denoting unseen posts next to each Group’s name. Users can tap through to a Group to read its feed, post updates or upload photos, or see a list of Group members. There is no access to Group admin controls, Group Chat, or Docs.

Enhanced Check-In Capabilities

The Places icon on the home screen now shows red notification counts denoting nearby check-ins by friends. Upon tapping through, users will see a check-ins feed with unseen nearby check-ins highlighted in yellow. Once a user has checked in to a Place, they can return to that Places page to tag additional friends who arrive after the check-in was made, or upload photos with captions to show what they’re doing at the Place. A user can no longer add photos or additional tags from the app once they’ve checked in elsewhere. Friends a user frequently checks in with will appear in a starred category at the top of their friend list for quick tagging.

Deals and the New Composer Design

When users visit their news feed, they’ll notice a new design of the composer for publishing content. Instead of a camera icon, “What’s on your mind?” status publisher, and Places icon, they’ll see three uniform buttons for “Photo”, “Status”, and “Check In”.

Upon tapping the Check In button within the news feed or Places, users see a list of nearby Places. These Places will now show yellow coupon icon if they are running a Deal (our coverage here). Users can tap through to the Places page where they can see details about how to claim the Deal, for instance by checking in, or checking in and tagging three friends. Once a user completes the Deal’s instructions, they’ll be shown a confirmation screen which includes the reward, an expiration date, and how many people have also claimed the Deal. This can be shown to an employee of the Place to redeem the reward.

Upon checking in to a Place with an active Deal, or claiming a Deal, the Places check-in story published to that user’s stream will include information about the Deal, according to Facebook’s Director of Local Emily White. Doing so could entice the user’s friends to visit.

Conclusion

The new version of Facebook for iPhone is fast, easy-to-use, and offers both unique mobile functionality and new replications of web interface features. Instead of answering user demands for minor features like maintaining the ability to add photos to albums, or allowing users to remove friends, Facebook is giving users new ways to take advantage of the iPhone’s GPS and camera. While Facebook for Android also received an update today, Facebook apps for Palm, Blackberry, Windows, and others which still don’t have Places functionality will now look even more antiquated.

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.

Facebook Updates New Groups Interface

Facebook has made a number of changes to the user interface for its new Groups feature. Facebook has changed the “Edit Notifications” button to read “Edit Settings”, and users can now opt not to add a bookmark for a Group to their home page. Facebook also now shows the email address for a Group in the header of its page and has removed the notification options pertaining to the old groups feature from the Notifications page.

Overall, the changes are intended to make Groups more understandable and easier to use, while ensuring user privacy.

As the options the button reveals don’t solely effect notifications, Facebook has changed the “Edit Notifications” button on each Group’s page to read “Edit Settings”. This reduces confusion between a specific Group’s options and the Notifications settings page which applies across the site. The icon on the button has also changed from a pencil to a gear.

Within the new “Edit Settings”, users are now given the option to “hide from home navigation.” When checked, a user won’t see a bookmark to the Group in their Facebook home page’s left navigation sidebar. A link to the Group will still appear on the Groups home page, accessible by clicking “See All” within the Facebook home page’s Groups navigation panel.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained at the Groups launch press conference that the site never shows a ranked list of which friends you interact with most, such as ex-boyfriends or people you’re flirting with because “other people might be over your shoulder while you’re using Facebook.” Complementing how Groups offers the “secret” privacy option — making a Group’s name, members, and content invisible to all non-members — users can now also keep any of their Groups from appearing on their home page navigation where they could be noticed by those watching over their shoulders.

Since the launch of Groups, users could go to Account->Account Settings->Notifications to change what actions within Groups generate in-Facebook and email notifications. Previously, the page included options pertaining to the old groups feature. New Groups have no officers or discussion boards, and users are simply added to Groups, not invited. Therefore, options to be notified of when you are promoted to an officer, your discussion board post is replied to, or you are invited to a Group have been removed. Also gone is the option to be notified when someone posts to one of your Groups, as the option was redundant since users manage this on a Group by Group basis.

Lastly, once a Group successfully creates sets its email list address, it will appear in the header of the Group page next to the privacy setting.

A product as deep and thoroughly integrated into Facebook’s other apps as Groups will surely receive numerous updates in the future. Facebook is clearly watching how users take advantage of the product, and how they have trouble with it, and are molding the product to facilitate use.

Facebook Groups API: Details and Potential

Facebook launched a Groups API last week to allow developers to build applications which can control Facebook’s new Groups feature programmatically. The API currently enables developers to pull a Group’s basic info including name, description, owner, last updated time, and privacy setting; access the Group’s picture, view existing posts; see all members; and post to the Group. Facebook says developers will also be able to create Groups and manage Group membership via the API “in the near future.”

The API will allow developers to build applications over the feature, such as Group feed readers, Group recommendation engines, and more. Developers using the API to control old groups won’t have to modify their code.

Facebook’s Graph API reference page for Groups details exactly what is available through the API. Note that some information about the old groups product such as property names for links and venues, which don’t exist for new Groups, is listed here. The API can be used to publish to to the feed of a Group using POST if the publish_stream permission has been attained.

No authentication is necessary to access the data of open Groups, except “{group}/members” which requires authentication from any user, but not necessarily a member of the Group. Non-members can authentications can be used to access the basic information and picture of a closed Group, but not its feed. Despite the closed privacy setting supposedly allowing non-members to see members, calling for this data returns a granted request but no data on who is part of the Group.

Authentication must come from a Group member to get any data about a secret Group other than that a Group does exist for that ID. One option for those wishing to explore the Groups API is the Apigee Facebook API Test Console.

We’ve yet to see any developers release products with Groups API integration, but there is potential. Since Groups exist as secondary content channels to the default news feed shown on the Facebook home page, a way to aggregate the posts from all of a user’s Groups into a single, easy-to-browse feed could be a useful application. Group recommendation engines which helps users to find open Groups which appeal to them could also be an area for innovation with the API.

Since the product has yet to be fully rolled out, and Facebook has promised that additional API functionality is on the way, developers may be hesitant to devote resources to the Groups API so early. However, there is much to be gained by the first developer to help users better find, use, and manage the Facebook microcosms created through Groups.

Facebook Groups Spam and The Notifications Dilemma

The aggressive default notifications and opt-out nature of Facebook’s new Groups feature are causing many users to see their email boxes fill with low-content alerts. However, while users can turn off these notifications, they should consider waiting until the initial flurry of notifications generated by being added to Groups or a set as an admin subsides before deciding whether to completely mute the new notifications.

Users should be patient as their friends eagerly add them to Groups and as posting norms for Groups develop. Many using Groups are likely unaware that Group name changes or a quick post of “lol’ may send email notifications to every Group member. As users learn how to use Groups and settle into the ones they’ve created, the number of notifications generated may decrease to a comfortable level.

Facebook, meanwhile, needs to establish a more personalized method of setting notification defaults for new products.

How to Change Groups Notifications Settings

Groups defaults to notifying users of every action taken upon them or Groups of which they’re members. If users want to change the notifications settings that apply to all their Groups, they can go to the top right corner of the Facebook home page and click Account->Account Settings->Notifications, then scroll down to Groups. Here users can control whether they’ll be notified when they are added to a group, their request to join is accepted, they’re made an admin, they receive a request to join, a Group’s name is changed, or a post to made to a Group. They can also click through a link to set which of their Groups can email them.

Users can also click “Edit Notifications” on a Group’s page to determine whether posts, comments, member actions, or only friend actions generate notifications. They can also opt in or out of emails from that Group.

Product Launches and The Notification Dilemma

Facebook confronts the notifications conundrum each time it launches a new product. Should settings default to alert users to every action within the feature, showing its full capabilities and drawing in additional users? Doing so risks annoying users to the point that they mute the product, or feel guilty about using it because of the spam it might send to friends. Some said the extraordinary initial prominence of Facebook Questions in the news feed may have deterred users from asking or answering Questions for fear they’d over run the feeds of friends with irrelevant content.

Alternatively, should Facebook default to only alert users of only especially visible or consequential actions, allowing them to opt in if they want to know about everything? While mitigating notification overload, users may then be acted upon or affiliated with content without their knowledge, increasing the risk of a personal credibility flap where users are judged based on actions the weren’t aware of.

The answer is not simply “strike a balance,” as the preferences of users do not follow a normal curve. As Facebook’s Director of Engineering Andrew Bosworth put it recently, “[Facebook’s] user research team…identified the dramatically different modalities of how people interact with messaging products. If you looked at data for average inbox size or number of read messages you would find numbers that accurately described neither group and if you built towards that you would be building a solution that nobody likes.” Facebook can’t use a one-size-fits-all solution to notification defaults, but instead needs to leverage its greatest resource — individual user data, specifically existing preferences.

Facebook tried this out on a small scale with a Places privacy setting. The default setting for who could see a user as “Here Now” at a Place was matched to the user’s loosest privacy setting. This meant if a user had all of their content restricted to only friends, friends would be the only people that could see they were “Here Now.” However, Facebook failed to understand that users didn’t want to share their location with strangers at the same Place simply because they had left even one content category, such as their birthday, visible to everyone.

By matching notifications defaults for Groups and future products to the average of an individual user’s existing notification preferences, users are less likely to want to change them. For instance if Facebook found that I leave notifications on for new content such as comments on my photos and posts to my wall, but turn them off for confirmations such as accepted friend requests, it might set me to receive notifications of new posts to my Groups but not when my requests to join Groups are accepted. In this or a similar manner, Facebook could make integrations of new features into a user’s behavior a less jarring experience.

Facebook Groups – A Walkthrough of Group Email, Docs, Chat, and More

Facebook’s Groups is a powerful new product allowing for sharing, organizing, chatting, and collaborating with a set of friends. The product is heavily integrated into the rest of Facebook’s core apps, but also includes new features such as Docs, and enhanced functionality such as automatic Event invitations and Group Chat. Here we’ll take a detailed tour of how users can create and use Groups.

Group Creation and Privacy

To start a Group, users click the “Create Group” link in the Facebook home page’s left navigation sidebar. This may be buried under the “More” button if a user is already a member of several Groups. Users will then see a pop-up where they can name the Group, use a typeahead to select friends to add to the Group, and choose a privacy setting to make the Group 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).

Non-members of open Groups can see the Group name, existing posts, members, description, Group Events, and can view but not edit Docs. They can’t see the publisher or Group Chat. Non-members of closed Groups can only see the Group name, members, description, and Group Events. Users must be a member to Like, comment, or subscribe to posts.

A drop-down menu in the Group creator lets users choose a favicon which will be shown alongside the Group’s name in the home page navigation panel. Choices hint at the types of Groups Facebook thinks users might create, including a red plastic cup, a soccer ball, a solidarity fist, and many icons already used on Facebook such as the video camera, and briefcase.

Group Editing and Admins

Once created, users are brought to their new Group’s page. In the top right, a Group’s founder and anyone they’ve set as an admin can click “Edit Group” to change the settings chosen when the Group was created. The default Basic Information tab lets admins enter a description of the Group, but they must click the easily missed tabs in the left navigation sidebar to upload a profile picture for the Group, and assign admin privileges to members. Members can only be made admins one at a time, which makes creating an egalitarian Group by sharing the privilege with large numbers of members a laborious task. Admins cannot remove admin privileges from those who have been admins longer than them.

Admins can remove members from the Group by going to “See All” in the members panel of the Group page, then clicking “See All” on the members page, then clicking the “x” next to a user’s name, or by clicking the “x” next to a user’s name in the members tab of the “Edit Group” page. Admins can permanently ban users from joining the Group, viewing the Group’s content, or finding the Group via search by checking the “Ban Permanently” box when removing a user.

Group Email

Groups can act as email lists. Admins request a Group email address which will have the format “[Any untaken prefix]@groups.facebook.com.” Note that a Group’s email address cannot be changed once it is set. Members can send emails to this address from the email address they’ve connected to their Facebook profile, and the message will show up on the Group page. The message is then syndicated out to all Group members who have email notifications turned on for “Posts on the Wall of one of your groups.” Currently, Gmail is routing some Group emails to the spam filter — something Facebook will have to work out if it wants users to replace their present listserv system with Facebook Groups.

Group Notifications

All members can click “Edit Notifications” on the Group Page to turn on or off email notifications from that specific Group. They can also select whose actions generate both email notifications and in-Facebook notifications which appear as red counts on the globe icon in Facebook’s top navigation bar. For granular control over exactly which actions generate notifications, user can go to Account->Account Settings->Notifications.

Group Publisher

At the top center of the Group Page, users see the Group’s name, its privacy setting and the content publisher. Alongside the standard post, link, photo, and video content choices present on the news feed publisher, the Groups publisher includes tabs for creating an Event or Doc (more on those later). When users click one of the content types to compose, they’ll see the distribution parameter for the post, which always reads “Post: [Content type] with [The currently viewed Group’s name].” This reminds users that content posted within a Group is only visible to Group members.

Group Feed

Below the publisher, a Group’s existing posts are shown in similar fashion to the news feed. Each time a member visits the Group page, they’ll see the posts made since their last visit above a gray line marked “Older Posts”, and content they’ve already seen below the line. Members can click a button on a post to subscribe to notifications of future Likes and comments to that post, or to unsubscribe if they wrote or are tagged in the post. Below the content, all Groups show a “Report” button for notifying Facebook of terms of service violations of intellectual property infringement, and open and closed groups show a “Share” button for posting the Group page to the news feed.

Group Events

Clicking the Event tab in the publisher brings up the Group Event composer. Members can type in an event name, select a date and time, choose a location, and input context which will appear in the Group feed story about the Event. A lock icon lets members set whether the Event can been seen or RSVP’d to by only Group members and invitees (default), or by anyone. All Group members are automatically invited to a Group’s Events, but this can be changed through the “Add Details” link. Once created, a Group’s upcoming Events are shown in the right sidebar of the Group page.

Interestingly, Group Events can have a Places page set as the location of an event — something not available to non-Group Events.

Docs

If a member clicks the Doc tab in the publisher, they’re prompted to add a title and begin composing a collaborative text document. Members can use simple formatting tools like bold, italics, and numbered or bulleted lists. Once saved, the Doc is posted to the Group feed and shown in the Group page’s right sidebar. Any member can then edit and save the Doc, while only the creator can delete it. Recent Changes are shown in the right sidebar of the Doc editor, and Members can use the arrow buttons below the Doc’s text to cycle through the Recent Changes listed by author in the right sidebar. Comments can be posted at the bottom. Group Docs don’t support simultaneous editing, so members won’t be able to see changes happen in real-time and instead must refresh to see another member’s edits.

Group Chat

In the top of the Group page right sidebar, users see the profile picture thumbnails of all Group members who are currently online, with those who are active showing a green square in the lower right hand corner of the thumbnail, and those who are inactive but online showing a gray square. Users can click Chat with Group to open a Group Chat window at the bottom of the page. Typing a message and hitting enter pops up a Group Chat window on the screen of all online Group members, and once that Chat window is minimized but not closed, red counts denote additional messages. Users will see profile pictures with status squares at the top of the Chat window, but won’’t see the “other user is now typing” icon as with one-on-one Facebook Chat. Currently, there’s no way of knowing if a Group Chat is going on without you, something you might want to be notified of so you can join the conversation.

Leaving and Inviting Others to a Group

In the right sidebar there are also links for inviting additional friends to the Group, or for leaving the Group. Upon clicking the “Leave Group” link, users are shown a warning that other members won’t be able to re-add them to the Group. This prevents a user from being repeatedly added to a Group against their will, as there is currently no permission step when a current member adds a friend to a Group. Users can, however, request admission to a Group after they’ve left, and simply need to be approved by an admin.

Conclusion

Groups collates collaboration functionality from a number of other web services and brings them where people’s friends are. However, a major strength of Groups may be its inherent virality — similar to how users enjoy receiving friend requests, they enjoy the social validation of being added to a Group. As such, users are happy to add others to their Groups, and soon many of Facebook’s users will have alternative channels to the news feed through which to consume content.

How Facebook Groups Integrates With Other Core Apps: News Feed, Events, Mobile

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.

News Feed

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.

Chat

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.

Events

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.

Old Groups

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.

Privacy

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).

Notifications

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.

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University of California at Irvine
Irvine, CA

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New York, NY

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New York, NY

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