Facebook has unveiled a new feature called Groups. Groups is designed to allows the user to create as many different groups of users as they want and send posts and content notifications to those groups that only members there can see. The groups can have as many users as the person wants and friends are easy to add to the group.
This feature will address the dilemma of letting coworkers and people who may only be on a users profile for Farmville neighbors see content you really only mean for family or close friends. Each time a member of the group posts an update, the entire group is notified of the update. Facebook also added a group chat feature to Groups to let you all chat at one time rather than the existing chat method that only allows chats between two people.
Groups can also be used in a method similar to a mailing list. A group email address can allow members to get access to the updates when they are not on Facebook and the emails they send can be posted for the entire group to see. By default, Groups are closed so only people specifically added can view the content for the Group. Groups can also be set to secret where the name of the group is not listed. Default closed Groups do list the name so members can find them.
Reuters quotes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying, "If we can do this, then we can unlock a huge amount of sharing that people want to do, but today they just can't do, because either it's too annoying, or there just aren't the right privacy settings to be able to do this at large scale."
The launch of Groups is also seen as a preemptive strike against Google, which announced Layers would be coming to Google social networks this fall. Analyst Ray Valdes from Gartner said, "It's a bit of a preemptive strike against Google. It's addressing a real problem that had been a shortcoming in the Facebook service. But it also has the effect of covering (Facebook's) flank."