Facebook Is Making Changes, but Secret Groups Are Not Actually Going Away

Secret Facebook groups will continue to exist — under a new name

Facebook announced a big change on Wednesday, which some misinterpreted/misleadingly suggest was the end of Facebook’s Secret groups.

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.

“For Facebook Groups, people have historically been able to choose between being public, closed or secret settings for their group,” wrote Product Manager for Facebook Groups Jordan Davis. “To better match people’s expectations and help provide more clarity, we’re rolling out a new simplified privacy model for Groups — public and private.”

The change makes it sound like Facebook is getting rid of its secret group option altogether. But the change is simply a product simplification (or possibly a rebranding/PR move). After all, Facebook’s secret groups have come under increased scrutiny.

“Closed groups will now be Private and Visible in Search, and Secret groups will become Private and Hidden in Search,” confirmed a Facebook spokesperson in a statement to Mashable.

Previously, users were able to create or join three types of Facebook Groups:

  • Public groups allowed any Facebook user to find the group and view posts in it.
  • Private groups allowed any Facebook user to discover the group and request access, but they couldn’t view the posts until they were a member.
  • Secret groups, worked just like private groups except they were undiscoverable. They could only be found if a user was invited by current members of the group.

After the new product change, there are still three options to choose from:

  • Public
  • Private and Visible
  • Private and Hidden (essentially the same as secret groups)

According to Facebook’s post, the change seems driven by confusion among its users over what “secret” actually meant.

“We’re making this change because we’ve heard from people that they want more clarity about the privacy settings for their groups,” said Facebook. “We’ve also heard that most people prefer to use the terms ‘public’ and ‘private’ to describe the privacy settings of groups they belong to.”

It’s important to note that none of these self-described levels of privacy actually refer to privacy from Facebook’s data mining and content scraping. The level of privacy only affects the internal search-ability and invitation process for groups (still a useful feature for those wanting a closed group, but not a true privacy solution).

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Casey Botticello is a partner at Black Edge Consulting. Black Edge Consulting is a strategic communications firm, specializing in online reputation management, digital marketing, and crisis management. Prior to founding Black Edge Consulting, he worked for BGR Group, a bipartisan lobbying and strategic communications firm.

Casey is the founder of the Cryptocurrency Alliance, an independent expenditure-only committee (Super PAC) dedicated to cryptocurrency and blockchain advocacy. He is also the editor of several Medium publications, including Medium Blogging Guide, FAANG, Strategic Communications, K Street, and Escaping the 9 to 5. He is a graduate of The University of Pennsylvania, where he received his B.A. in Urban Studies.

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