Will the new Groups feature revolutionize how we use Facebook?

Facebook just did something I had been hoping for years that they would do, and I think it’s going to revolutionize the way we use this incredible tool. They call it Groups, and it allows you to easily share status updates with social circles of selected people. (Yes, it has the same name as an old Facebook feature called Groups, but it differs markedly.)

What does that mean? Well, suppose you just took some awesome pictures of your baby (or grandchild) taking his/her first steps. Of course you want to share it on Facebook, right? But do you really want to share those pictures with that crabby guy in Topeka you met two years ago at a business conference? And does he really want to see them? Probably not. So now you can create a Friend Group of people you know (or at least think) would be interested in those really cute pictures. And stop bothering the crabby guy with your personal status updates.

You can create a Group for your work friends, your immediate family, your extended family, your old high school friends, or even people you “friended” (even though you don’t really like them) just because you didn’t have the nerve to ignore their request. Then, every time you post a new status update, simply select which group or groups you think are worthy to see it. How cool is that?

Facebook says it’s not eliminating Friend Lists, which provided a more complicated way to do pretty much the same thing, but they may as well. Unlike Friend Lists, I predict usage of Groups will become commonplace because it is logical and because the incorporation of dropdown lists to easily select groups associated with certain tasks (such as status updates) will make it more visible and accessible. With Facebook Groups, you can also have chats and send emails just to people in a group you created.

In addition, Facebook Groups help alleviate at least some of the privacy concerns people have about using Facebook. If, for example, you have 800 friends (which, by the way, you really shouldn’t because you can’t possibly know who all those people are), and you tell them all that you are going out with a close friend to The Social Network at a local theater, you never know whether one of them might take advantage of that information for nefarious reasons (such as breaking into your apartment). But you may want to tell five of your close movie-loving friends who you know you can trust. Now you can.

I have already been experimenting with the new Groups feature, and it’s working very well for me. I created a group for my immediate family, so we can share status updates on everything from family vacation pictures to my daughter’s latest activities at college. Of course, the college activities she shares with me may be very different than the ones she shares with her friends, but believe me I am OK with that. And, with Groups, my children won’t have to see the work-related “junk” (as they see it) I might post. I can limit that “junk” to an entirely different group of people.

So have you tried the new Facebook Groups yet? What do you think?

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