Facebook Adds Privacy to Groups, and Takes it Away with Apps

by Keri Honea on October 19, 2010

Last week Facebook launched a new design for its Groups feature that greatly narrows the purpose and focus of Groups. When Facebook created Fan Pages, they redesigned Groups so that Groups would be a place for people with similar interests, causes, and the like could gather, whereas Fan Pages would be for companies, brands, websites, etc. For example, most Groups were for school alumni, cancer awareness, and completely random–such as my two favorite Groups: “I am Fluent in Sarcasm” and “OMG I so need a glass of wine or I’m gonna sell my kids.”

And now, this is no longer the case.

Due to claimed popular demand, Facebook has redesigned Groups for users “to selectively share information with a small group of friends.” In other words, you can create clubhouses with your friends that only members of said clubhouse can participate in and view. Members can post photos, send group e-mails, and share info with one another without fear that anyone else will see. (Anyone else have visions of treehouses with signs saying, “No Girls Allowed”?)

Don’t think I don’t see the use in these Groups. Committees, alumni, and even fraternities and sororities could really use this resource as a method of collaboration, discussion, or just plain old keeping in touch. If this is implemented well, it could quite possibly fill the void that Google Wave left (or will be leaving).

On the flipside, this whole notion of Facebook suddenly being concerned about Group privacy is nearly downright laughable, thanks to Facebook Apps selling user information to third parties. One of these Apps just so happens to be the social media giant’s probably most famous and most used App: Farmville. Facebook has come out and said that this is clearly a breach of their rules, but no one has been able to confirm 1) how long this breach has been going on, 2) whether corporate office really did know about it, and 3) whether they will try to hide behind their warnings that Apps aren’t Facebook products when users become enraged and litigious.

So be aware, Facebook users. You may now have more privacy in one region, but it seems that you’re definitely losing it in another and will keep losing it unless users uninstall all apps or Facebook finds all the culprits. Either way, Facebook’s privacy stance seems rocky yet again.

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