Facebook updates its Group privacy settings & adds admin controls for group safety


Facebook has updated its Group privacy settings and added admin controls for group safety because it wants to make it easier for users to understand its Group privacy settings.

The social media site is doing away with the public, closed or secret settings. Alternatively, Groups will include two clear options “private” or “public.” Facebook claims this will simplify who can find a Group and see its members and posts.

Jordan Davis, product manager for Facebook Groups on the Facebook newsroom blog said, “Having two privacy settings — public and private — will help make it clearer about who can find the group and see the members and posts that are part of it. We’ve also heard that most people prefer to use the terms “public” and “private” to describe the privacy settings of groups they belong to.”

Private groups will be the ones wherein only the members will be able to see who else is in the group and what they’ve posted. Whereas in public groups, the members and their posts will be visible to all.

These new settings will grant more control for admins and members, giving admins more control tools and members the option to see the group’s history or preview its content before accepting or declining an invitation.

In an effort to monitor and detect bad content in Facebook groups, the new group settings are also part of the Safe Communities Initiative that the company started two years ago.

So how will things change for the existing groups?

  • A group that was formerly “secret” will now be “private” and “hidden.” Only members of the group can find this group and only they can see who is in the group and what they post.
  • A group that was formerly “closed” will now be “private” and “visible.” Anyone can find this group, but only members can see who is in the group and what they post.
  • A group that was formerly “public” will remain “public” and “visible.” It will be visible to everyone and you can search these groups and find its members.

Moreover, with the new settings, admins will be able to clearly choose whether or not the group can be found in search and other places.

Facebook Group Privacy Settings

Facebook added that by separating the privacy settings for posts and group membership from the overall discoverability of the group, it is easier for admins to understand and manage their group privacy settings, and also easier for members to know important information like who can find the group.

All the new options are now available for all admins in their Group Settings, but note that there are restrictions to if and when an admin can change the privacy setting of a group. Though, all the updates made by an admin to the group’s privacy setting will be highlighted for all group members via notifications.

This news of the group settings update also comes in the wake of recent findings that secret Facebook groups have been acting as rallying places for racist, offensive activity A very recent example of such was from earlier last month when ProPublica found a group of Border Patrol agents joking about migrant deaths. Providing more transparent group settings and enforcement of community guidelines will hopefully prevent such groups from making their mark.

The update is in line with the vision Mark Zuckerberg described at the most recent F8 developers’ conference. Where he positioned private Groups as a big part of Facebook’s strategy going forward, and this seems like a step toward that eventuality.