Behind The Velvet Ropes Of Facebooks Private Groups


(Richard Millington) #1

This is worth a quick read. Two interesting thoughts stuck out for me.

First, the cyclical nature of a platform taking control of a large swathe of activity (e.g. Yahoo groups) and then finding itself inundated with banal groups and interactions. I don’t quite agree with the conclusions, but it’s interesting.

The second was just what might impact Facebook Groups have. Do we want a single dominant platform everyone uses to build their communities?

Would love to get your thoughts.

(Robert McIntosh) #2

No, we don’t … in particular when it is Facebook who have shown that they cannot be trusted to have users, as opposed to shareholder, interests at heart.

Different, vibrant and open communities will have different needs, and there is no one-solution-firts-all for all these, especially not from Facebook that tends to have very rigid parameters.

I am not entirely sure what the article’s conclusion is. Yes, there are a lot of groups. Yes, most are meaningless to everyone that is not the target. Yes, they can be echo chambers, but also support groups.

If I’m honest, I see real communities being part of the resistance to Facebook (and its ilk) and its control over the conversations and relationships between individuals and each other, and with ‘brands’. Whilst I do curate a few groups over there, these are more about filtering content and making first connections, but not about ‘community’ for me.

There was a start of a conversation here earlier:

which was, in part, a reaction to a comment I made:

(Richard Millington) #3

My suspicion is Facebook groups is already the dominant platform for building communities and will become the dominant platform for the foreseeable future. It won’t attract most enterprise companies, but the combination of being ‘free’ and ‘viral effects’ will be what most groups need.

The only catch is if they begin to reduce reach and charge people to reach group members.

(Robert McIntosh) #4

exactly, just replace “when” instead of “if”

(Renée Van Holsteijn) #5

That would be horrific. Oh my.

(Bart van Bragt) #6

This wouldn’t be horrific in my book.
What’s horrific is that FB is trying to close down the open web. It’s one platform, controlled by a single company which shuts out the rest of the world. Search engines can’t access it. You need to give up quite a bit of personal information to participate. Anonymous posting is not an option. And you have no idea what FB will do with your content, if they will sell this, if they will close you down or if they close down. There have been lots of examples of huge companies/sites that seemed ‘too big to fail’ but the same thing can easily happen to Facebook. Their operational costs are HUGE. If they start losing users there will come a point that all that content will be lost.

But more important (to me anyway) is that everything is in their control. You don’t own the community or content, Facebook does. They decide what rules you should adhere to. They decide how and if you can interact with your community members. So FB starting to charge for each is not very high on my list of FB problems :wink:

I partially agree with Kevin Roose’s conclusion; closing off groups/discussions can foster more/deeper sharing. That’s certainly true for more personal/intimate subjects. But it’s much, much easier to share/ask/answer if you know that not (literally!) the whole world will be able to see what you share and pin that to your person.

When it comes to community management that’s a hard balance to strike. Open = better, but in some cases closed sections can really add a lot of value to your community. But this does come with some strings attached.

(Richard Millington) #7

Not sure I agree with this completely. You don’t need to give up much information to join Facebook. My dad is on there and he only has his name and location on the site. I’m also pretty sure search engines can access it, but (for Google) they probably choose not to use it too heavily. FB is a competitor after all.

Is there any difference from any brand community? I’d argue we do the same thing here. We decide what rules people abide by and how interactions should occur etc…

(Bart van Bragt) #8

You don’t provide a lot of information when creating an account, that’s true. But they do know what sites you visit and how often (courtesy of the Like buttons on most sites and their advertising network), they know who your friends are, they know what brands you like, news you read, etc.
Building a profile about you is their bread and butter. This is the USP Facebook has for advertisers. They know more about you than your mother :wink:

And it’s true that I, as a user, also only partially own the content that I post on a community site. But that’s a different perspective. You own the Feverbee site which gives you control over the rules, access, content, etc. If the Feverbee community you could do that to a certain extent but only up to the moment that Facebook decides otherwise. If they go down, you go down. if they they change the rules of allowed content they also apply to you. If they limit access to your group, you’ll just need to abide or move. I.e. you don’t have the control that you have on

A bit extreme but mostly true: