The social networking website Facebook updated its new Group features platform this week and changes are expected to be in effect starting on Monday. Facebook launched its Group feature functionality in October, which lets its members create spaces around shared interests so that they can share documents, chat, tag photos, and take part in community chats.
Other web and group messaging services have also introduced services centered around group activities, underscoring the importance of making online activities relevant to a person’s real life community and activities.
Path, for example, which was co-founded by Dave Morin, a senior platform developer for Facebook, aims to create an online community where people can share their personal photos with a network of friends, limited to 50 people. Path calls itself a “personal network” and “a place to be yourself and share life with close friends and family. The personal network doesn’t replace your existing social network it augments it” the website’s introduction emphasizes.
Facebook’s first update to its group platform, which will augment its own existing social networking functionality, will move the website in the direction of providing a personalized online community instead of one where the object is to amass as many friends and share as much information as possible.
Changes to the Facebook Group platform are as follows: The Group platform previously allowed users to share photos but the update will now let members share entire albums with their group. Facebook Questions, which was introduced in late March, can now be used to poll members only within one’s group. The Group Admin feature has been changed to allow the admin to retain power to approve new members. And Group search functionality has been added so that members can search through their group for information. This feature will be rolled out over the next week.
A question for readers and Facebook fans: With all the social networking websites now available to let us enjoy staying in touch with others online…do we really need another virtual community within an online community that is not real in the first place? Who has time to manage all these nice new features? Is this view too cynical? Is Facebook Groups, too much, too little, or just right?