Why the New Facebook Groups Suck on So Many Levels

Posted on 07. Oct, 2010 by in Web

If you were online this week, you most likely heard that Facebook was holding an event in their headquarters to make some big announcement. After the resulting rumors by every leading online publication, Facebook announced three new features yesterday. New groups, the ability to download your Facebook data, and a Facebook app dashboard.

As far as I can tell, the only one of those three features that is live on my account is the group feature and of course, I had to try it out. Boy, was that a mistake. I actually lost at least one Facebook friend as a result of this (although I do still think it was an overreaction on their part) and had to partake in a half an hour debate/yelling match on Twitter with some of the people I thought would want to be part of my Twitter Folk group on Facebook.

I have no doubt in my head that Facebook will receive endless lawsuits as a result of this new feature and that my below complaints will be fixed within the week, month maximum. The following are some of the reasons the new Group feature on Facebook is a horrible implementation of a good idea:

  • Add anyone: What is with the opt out as opposed to opting in on Facebook? I now understand why this would annoy someone. If I want to be part of a group, I will join the group, but with these new groups, any person can add any other person to a group without their permission. That would only be slightly annoying if groups did not have notifications on by default but that is not the case. More on that later.
  • Cannot choose from friends: If Facebook wants to give me the freedom to add whoever I want to a group, then at least make it easy for me to do. Let me see a list of my friends and allow me to add as many as I want at once. Instead, to add someone to a group, you begin typing their name and manually add them one by one.
  • Notifications on by default: This is by far the most annoying thing I have ever experienced (only slight exaggeration). When you are forced into becoming a member of a group, your notifications are enabled, which means when someone joins the group, someone posts something on the group’s wall, or does any other of the countless things a person can do in a group, you get a Facebook notification AND an email. Are you kidding me, Facebook? Every person I added to my group came back to their computer and found an inbox overflowing with notifications for something they knew nothing about. How does Zuckerberg get away with this stuff someone tell me please?
  • Errors: Groups present some serious competition for the buggiest products I have ever used. That includes Google WAVE (R.I.P), iTunes, and Skype. I am getting errors more often than not.
  • Privacy, seeing others’ profiles: So, here is something I found to be the biggest breach of privacy in the new groups. When I am added to the group, other members can see my profile despite the fact that I am not their Facebook friend. How does Facebook justify THAT? Now, I am not sure to what extent my personal information is displayed, but based on the backlash I got on Twitter, it is way too much.
  • Messy Walls: Again, if you are going to make a bad feature, that is one thing, but at least the feature should work properly. The walls of these new Facebook groups are a total mess… It is absolutely impossible to read and understand the threads of conversations taking place there. Add document collaboration to that, which is in theory a great addition, and you got yourself a huge headache, which is what I have right now.
  • Noise in Group Chat: Wow, this is going to drive me nuts. My little Facebook Chat box does not stop blinking. Why does someone in a group I was signed up for involuntarily think I want to chat with them and 75 other people? Someone please tell me that. The group chat feature is completely out of control and unmanageable. Yes, it might work in a group of five people in a work environment, but beyond that, horrible implementation of a messy idea.

I have a lot more to say about this, but I am going to stop here, then go to my Facebook, remove myself from these groups, apologize to my friends again, and then go back to tweeting. You know? Twitter? The site that does not steal your information and blast it to the world, shove annoying ads down your throat, and change its design every 35 seconds? Yea, that Twitter. You can find me here.

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10 Responses to “Why the New Facebook Groups Suck on So Many Levels”

  1. John Cass

    07. Oct, 2010

    Thanks for the analysis, I think you raise some good points. But I would say on one feature, the ability to see other people’s profile data when you’ve joined a group. That’s very similar to LinkedIn’s strategy, and while its new for Facebook, we have seen this type of function within social networks. Though, I’d hear you, if you said that facebook is changing the rules in the middle of the game.

  2. David Spinks

    07. Oct, 2010

    Yea I’ve been playing around with the groups today and have found a lot of the same exact issues as you. I don’t know how they thought some of this stuff would fly.

    I think it could be really interesting. It seems a lot less business focused and a lot more community oriented, which I like for a platform like facebook.

    We’ll see how they fix it up.

  3. Ving

    07. Oct, 2010

    Good points. Facebook should take note of the above issues.

  4. Carrie Brown-Smith

    07. Oct, 2010

    I actually think groups is kind of interesting and potentially useful, although yes, clearly there are the usual issues at launch.

    However, I’m pretty sure you are mistaken about being about to see the profiles of people in the group even if you aren’t a Facebook friend. I’ve tried it several times with different people and that’s definitely not the case for me. Anybody else?

  5. Jessica Gottlieb

    13. Oct, 2010

    Great post. I never got past the whole “opt out” thing. Once I saw that I realized I hated it and never investigated more

  6. Liz Polay-Wettengel

    14. Oct, 2010

    I have to respectfully disagree with your analysis of the new Facebook groups.

    Facebook itself says this is for sharing with small groups of people you already know, such as your book club, your family, and I’ll even add your planning committee for a project you are on.

    This tool wasn’t meant to be used to create a random group of people you dont have a personal relationship with or a group of more than say 15-20 people.

    (should FB limit this for us? Not sure that is the answer but I’ll agree there is some useful functionality missing, such as the ability to opt out when invited to a group)

    This tool is best for those small groups you need to share and collaborate with.

    If used in that context, I think the new Facebook groups function is a useful tool for sharing photos, documents and for making small group decisions.

    I have not discovered that I can see profiles of those I am not friends with, and if that is truly the case, that is certainly a legitimate gripe, but otherwise, I find this tool very useful in both my personal and professional life.

  7. Hassan Ben Sober

    25. Oct, 2010

    Liz,

    The intention and the implementation of these “small groups” may vary quite a bit.

    The inability to opt-out is especially unsettling.
    How could this have NOT occurred to the developers?
    Answer: I am sure it did.
    They just keep throwing stuff out there that robs its members of their privacy, and hope one squeaks by without anyone squawking.

  8. titipornstar

    25. Nov, 2010

    i used the group function for my nightclub i could easily add people to the group pretty much in bulk… they have the choice whether to join or not!

    now i would like to create another group for a service i am providing and find that i can only add people one by one?! on the scroll bar!

    this has totally destroyed the whole purpose why i use facebook… i cant create a big group, create events like it used to be nice n tidy, or send mailouts to many people…

    i just pray they dont mess about with the group i already set up!!

  9. Bal T'san Chin

    27. Nov, 2010

    The Mark Suchanerd – he looka like “Shreech” from Saved by the Bell”.

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