As of early November 2021, Facebook changed its Public group rules in ways that will make them easier to spam, fill with otherwise inappropriate posts and information, become more vulnerable to trolls, and add more burden for Group Administrators in these and other ways. For these reasons, with technical explanations of how, you may want to consider making your Public Facebook Group, or petition your group Administrator, to make the group a Private Group now.
What a Public Facebook Group meant
Public Facebook groups aren’t totally public, despite all or most content being visible to other Facebook group users who aren’t members. In many such groups, you have to send a Request to join and be approved by the Group Administrators. Some even have questions you have to answer. Not hard questions. Just something to deter the bots and spammers from having to take little more time and/or effort to get to what they want, but which is enough to deter most as there are many other groups out there they can infiltrate without putting in the effort, or while they would be answering the question. Within the group, Group Administrators have to keep an eye on things to prevent or resolve toxic commenting, cyber-bullying, among other situations among members. Sometimes, they will have to even approve posts by some or all members just to keep the civility or content on point for others to enjoy without having to wade through inappropriate content. But as of early November 2021, Facebook made it tougher to do all this by either removing some of these moderation tools, or rendering them ineffective with new features to Public Facebook Groups.
What did Facebook change?
Facebook took away member request approvals, for public groups that approve members, and now will even allow non-members to post by default. Group Admins were given a few more tools to work with, like approval of non-member’s posts or comments before they are seen, and algorithms to de-prioritize posters who have had a history of violations. However, that’s like giving Group Admins a plate for a shield while giving everybody else paintball guns to potentially use on them. How many potential non-members, including bots, might now just post something that Group Admins would have to review when there was no need of this? How often would Group Admins have to check membership lists to see there aren’t lurkers and trolls up to no good who have joined to scrape info for use in spam, find people to message with inappropriate content, or do far worse things? How much time and effort is all this going to take? And that’s just the preventative things! Dealing with spam, fake news, toxic content, etc. after the fact would be a lot more work!
How stupid does Facebook think we are?
It’s super disappointing that when Facebook is supposed to be curbing fake news, trolling, and divisiveness online, Facebook makes it easier to for people and bots to post, increasing traffic and ad revenue for them, while downloading the information control responsibility on to Group Administrators. Then Facebook goes on to “market” it as doing something good about the problem while enhancing “social” interaction… as if people can’t see through the lies. They must think we’re really stupid now with us under their thumbs and addicted to their platform, when we’re turning away from it more and more, which is why they need to do stuff like this to maintain revenue.
The Private Facebook Group
In a Private Facebook Group, content won’t be visible to those who aren’t members. Those people (or bots) wanting to join will have to ask to join. If you post or interact in such a group, your activity won’t appear in the newsfeed of your Facebook friends, nor will you be able to share any content within the group to show them. Your past Public Group activities may or may not have shown on your Facebook friends’ feeds, pending some settings, and how much other activity you had for algorithms to prioritize your Group activities in feeds, but your activity won’t be on any of your Facebook friends’ feeds unless they were also members of the group. Otherwise, internally, all the same sorts of moderation controls are there, with the new ones to moderate certain users, words in posts, etc. or do so in greater capacity. But Administrators would only have to do this for members, not anybody or anything on Facebook that might do what I’ll call “surf-by posting” allowed by the new Public Facebook Group settings.
Externally, you won’t be able to make your Group public again after making it a Private Group, since not all members might not agree to the reversion, so that’s a good policy. However, under these current settings for Public Facebook Groups, why would you want to change back? Future changes to Public Facebook Group settings may allow the change back to be more practical, but you probably wouldn’t want to unless those changes were really good to maintain some content control. It’s a permanent move as foreseeable for now, but I don’t think one you’ll regret.
Time is of the essence to convert
If you think you should turn your Public Facebook Group into a Private Group, do it as soon as you can. It will take 3 days for Facebook to make it happen after the request to change gets put in by your Group Administrator. Lots of things can happen in 3 days in some Public Facebook Groups!