If you miss the old AOL chat rooms, youll love Facebooks plan to combine Groups and Messenger without spamming you to death. Starting today, Facebook will gradually roll out the ability for members of Facebook Groups to launch group chats about specific sub-topics that up to 250 members can join. They can also start audio or video calls with up to 50 members. A dog owners Group could spawn threads for discussing spontaneous park meetups, grooming tips or sharing photos as their puppies grow up. Chat for Groups could make Facebooks discussion forums more real-time and engaging, strengthening loyalty to one of the social networks most differentiated features. But instead of immediately alerting you of every message in every thread, youll first get a Facebook Groups notification inviting you to each new group chat you have to voluntarily join to receive further notifications. If you miss that initial alert, you can always go to the new Chat tab on Facebook Groups to browse the active threads or launch a new one. And if a Group chat gets overwhelming, you can turn off notifications about message reactions and Messenger games, or opt to only be notified if youre @ mentioned in the thread. As a last resort against spam, Group admins can always shut down a group chat or limit their creation to only other admins. Facebook has been poking around how it could integrate Messenger and Groups for a while. It already offers group chat for up to 250 members of a Facebook Event, and in 2016 Messenger tested public discussion Rooms. Now Facebook has settled on building chat as an extension of its existing Groups instead. As the News Feed gets more politically combative and the algorithm preferences generalist content thats appealing to everyone, theres less room for niche interest content on Facebook. Thats contributed to an explosion of group chat activity on competitors like Telegram. WhatsApp revamped its own group chats with more admin tools in May to fight off this threat. With 1.4 billion people active in Facebook Groups each month as part of tens of millions of active Groups, the feature generates a ton of activity and return visits for Facebook. With Groups Chats, Facebook expects users could plan events, arrange in-person meetings, or have deeper discussions. Messaging could also help Facebook build toward its goal of getting 1 billion people into what it calls meaningful Groups after it announced 200 million people already were as of May. With all the scandals plaguing its reputation and concerns that it polarizes the populace, Facebook is eager to find more ways to show it actually brings people together.
That avocado toast fan page is about to get a lot more interesting. If your Jimmy Neutron Facebook Group has felt a bit dull, that's probably because the social media giant didn't allow members to jump into a giant, early '00s-style group chat Well, Facebook plans to gradually roll out a new feature that will allow Groups to launch specific sub-chats up to 250 members. Not only that, groups can start audio or video calls with up to 50 members. Facebook communities will likely enjoy this new form of direct communication. And Facebook considered pain-points users might have with notifications, and made it so that users must opt-in to a chat before getting updates. It's also possible to adjust notification settings to stop all alerts, or only get alerts when somebody specifically @ mentions you. Group admins can shut down chats, or make it so that only admins can approve chats. As for people who want to make group chats with just their friends, a similar feature was launched earlier this year for Messenger. It too has limits of 250 people and many of the same features that Facebook will be rolling out to Groups. There are currently 1.4 billion people active in Facebook Groups. By allowing large group chats, Facebook is hoping that users will continually come back to the site, increasing overall engagement. The company is also hoping to get 1 billion people into what it calls "meaningful Groups," or group--even silly Jimmy Neutron ones--that have high user engagement. In May Facebook announced that 200 million people were already in these "meaningful Groups," so it's likely that by adding more engaging features, people will continue to return. And earlier this year, the company made changes to its News Feed algorithm to push more content from friends and family, and less from businesses and media. The goal here is to make sure people are having fun with the platform, and not engaging with Russian trolls.