The Dark Side of Facebook Groups

by Ron on October 8, 2010

Dark Side
Image by Frodrig via Flickr

Well, that didn’t take long did it? People have quickly found a fatal flaw in Facebook Groups, the new feature I was gushing about just yesterday. It turns out you can be added to a group without your permission, and there is no quick way to opt out or mark your accounts so this can’t happen.

Given the flood of email you can get from even a single one of these groups, you can imagine how that might affect a person like say Chris Brogan. In fact, Brogan was fuming about it this morning on Facebook  today saying:

Is there a way to NOT get added to everyone’s [groups]?

Jason Calacanis went so far as to blog an email he sent to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg after he was added without permission to a less than flattering group.

What’s worse is even if you want to be in the group, the default is to get an email for every interaction. If you belong to a single group, it can grow overwhelming very quickly. If you’re well known like Brogan, I can imagine it moves beyond irritating to downright maddening.

Finally, even when you mark a group as private, apparently it isn’t because anyone in the group can add anyone they please from outside the group,  and the group owner is powerless to stop it.

My initial reaction was this is 1.0 technology and let’s give them a chance, but I’m at the point where Facebook needs to fix this and fast.

I’m also more than a bit curious how Facebook could release a major feature like Groups without doing some serious testing first. I’m sure if they had, they would have heard all these complaints and more before releasing it to the public.

It’s another case of a major Facebook screw-up and it makes them look more incompetent than ever. They really need to get a grip quickly because when they finally had a feature that could make them look good, they screwed it up out of the gate.

Cross-posted on by Ron Miller.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christine Pilch October 8, 2010 at 2:45 pm

I can’t help thinking that if there had been a little less “lockdown” and a little more user testing, they would have been able to prevent a lot of frustration over Facebook Groups.

2 Ron October 8, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Hi Christine:
I completely agree. They took a positive and turned it into a negative by being sloppy.

Thanks for the comment.

3 James Stratford @JRStratford on Twitter October 9, 2010 at 5:09 pm

It’s a shame that they didn’t Think, Test, and Re-test until they had a model at 90 percent. As stated before in other places it’s more of an Alpha Test than even a Beta Test and it rolled out! In a corporate environment with proper leadership it never could’ve happened! 🙂

On the positive side, it does give us a new topic to write about.

4 Nichole Smith @Nikki_S on Twitter October 10, 2010 at 3:14 pm

I agree. I see far too many issues with Facebook Groups from a community management standpoint. I’m concerned as you mentioned, the ability to add people without permission, a person’s safety, how they will personal attacks, spamming and a host of other group management logistics. It’s one thing to have a set of rights and responsibilities statement but I’m concerned with how quick Facebook will be able to respond and how much responsibility they will lay at a group creator’s feet. The whole feature is definitely cause for concern.

5 Ron Miller October 11, 2010 at 8:22 am

If they had gotten it right the first time, or at close to right, I would be very happy to blog about that. 🙂

Thanks for your comment.

6 Ron Miller October 11, 2010 at 8:24 am

Hi Nicole:
I like how you describe it in community management terms because that’s exactly where they failed. If you set up a group, you should be able to control membership. As it stands, it’s out of your control.

Thanks for your comment.

7 Tim Smith October 21, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Groups. Are. Not. New. They. Have. Been. Around. A. Long. Time. This is just a new version of them, a very very horrid version.

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