Facebook said Wednesday that it is changing the way Groups work on the platform. They will no longer have the option to be marked as “secret,” giving users only two privacy settings: public or private.
Once the change is implemented, groups that were once marked “secret” will be labeled “private” and only be visible for members of the group. Group admins will have the option to have public or private groups and also be able to toggle whether the group is visible in search results.
“By separating the privacy settings for posts and group membership from the overall discoverability of the group, it is easier for admins to understand and manage their group privacy settings, and also easier for members to know important information like who can find the group,” Jordan Davis, product manager for Facebook Groups, said in a blog post Wednesday.
The changes to Facebook Groups rolling out this week are part of the “Safe Communities Initiative,” which includes something Facebook is calling “proactive detection.”
“Our policies and proactive detection technology continue to apply across private and public groups, just as they did for the previous privacy settings of public, closed and secret groups. This allows us to find and remove bad actors and bad content, helping to keep Facebook safe,” Nir Matalon, the product manager for Facebook Groups, told BuzzFeed News.
According to a separate blog post on Wednesday, Tom Alison, Facebook’s VP of engineering, the company has built a new tool called Group Quality, which scans all groups for content that breaks the platform’s community standards — regardless of privacy settings.
“As content is flagged by our systems or reported by people, trained reviewers consider context and determine whether the content violates our Community Standards,” Alison said in the blog post. “We then use these examples to train our technology to get better at finding and removing similar content.”
Facebook Groups have become a source of misinformation and radicalization in the last year. In March, BuzzFeed News found that small communities on the platform were inundated by spammers, hackers, and trolls who exploit and hijack groups to make money or sow chaos.