Organizing Friends Using Facebook Groups

Overview

Facebook, the brain child of Mark Zuckerberg, has become the king of the social media sites with over a billion active users worldwide. If you've been on Facebook very long, you've likely seen your list of Facebook friends grow to include family members, relatives, friends from high school or college, work acquaintances, etc. It probably didn't take very long before you had a desire to create separation between one group of Facebook friends and another. Maybe you have a list of people (small or large) who want/need to be able to communicate online in an environment where those conversations are visible only to those in the group. Facebook groups are perfect for that situation.

The bottom line is that your privacy settings do not provide the granularity of control you'd like, do they? You can make your posts visible to specific lists of friends, all of your friends, friends of friends, or even make them public if you want. But you don't really have control over the posts of the Facebook friends around you. You've probably experienced the "loose cannon" friend, the "drama queen" friend, the "overly political" friend, or other similar Facebook annoyances. Maybe that's you! Or, maybe you want to have discussions that are "for group eyes only" without having to micro-manage the visibility of every post. Facebook groups give you an opportunity to organize yourselves in mini-Facebook clubhouses where what's said in group stays in group.

Applications for Groups

There are many interesting ways to use Facebook groups. The most obvious is the mutual interest group. Do you have a bunch of friends who like to talk baseball? Start a baseball fan group. Substitute your own special interest here. You can also start groups that are virtual, online reflections of an actual real life organization. See the list below for examples:

  • Former employees of a particular company
  • Home owners' association
  • Church Sunday School class or community group
  • Church Committee
  • Members of high school drama club
  • Softball team
  • Immediate family
  • Extended family

Another interesting thing to consider about Facebook groups is that group members are not automatically made friends. In other words, your profile content is not visible to fellow group members if they are not your friends on Facebook. This assumes that you have made your profile visible to friends only in your privacy settings. This means that you can communicate with and share pictures with someone on Facebook by being in a group with them while never actually making them a friend and exposing them to your profile. This is a great idea for those of us who are involved in open adoptions and want an easy way to interact with the birth parents. Divorced parents of children can interact securely this way as well. The pictures you upload to the group are visible only to the other parent, not to their other Facebook friends.

NOTE: Before you share online images with your co-parent, consider verifying that their profile pictures are not public. It's not a good idea to allow pictures of your child to be exposed to the public.

Creating and Configuring Your Group

To create a new group, do the following:

  1. Go to your home page (click "Home" in the upper right part of the page).
  2. Click "Create Group..." from the left side of the page (see screenshot A).
  3. A dialog will appear (see screenshot B). Enter a group name, any members you want to add, and select a privacy setting (Open, Closed, or Secret).

NOTE: One unfortunate side-effect of having a secret group is that prospective members can not request membership. You have to add them yourself. With closed groups, only the group members and their profile pictures are visible. All posts, pictures, and other group content are hidden from the outside world. With open groups, all group content is visible to the outside world.

Facebook Group Features

So what can you do with Facebook groups?

  • Write posts, comment on posts, have conversations, etc.
  • Share pictures or videos
  • Maintain a calendar of events for your group
  • Have a vote on a particular topic, giving a list of options. If you allow it, members can add options to vote for as well.
  • Add a file and make it visible to the group
  • Write a group description

Conclusion

Facebook groups are an extremely helpful way to organize the people around you and create easy to manage boundary lines over who can see what content. They can reduce the likelihood of oops situations where something was posted with the wrong visibility and someone ended up being annoyed, hurt, or offended. It's generally true that not everyone should see everything. Boundaries are often a good thing. Easy to use boundaries are even better.

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