Facebook's "Groups" feature was first announced in October 2010, to reduce the need for Facebook users to share everything with everyone, when they really only want to share something with select "Friends," according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
"'Just Friends' was the most private setting," Zuckerberg said at a press conference. "But you might not want to share something with hundreds or even thousands of friends." Instead, the new Groups feature lets you share, chat and email with small groups, such as family members or coworkers.
Almost seven months and more than 50 million Groups later, the social networking site is issuing its first updates to the feature to expand on the platform and introduce new elements. Here's a quick breakdown of what's new.
1. Groups Gets More Interactive
A few things you could always do with groups: chat, create and share documents, and message members. And since Groups first rolled out, Facebook released two new features to its site—questions and polls. Now, Questions and Polls are available to Groups members as well.
"Now you can post questions and polls for only members to weigh in on," writes Elliot Lynde, software engineer at Facebook, in a blog post. "You'll get quick responses to questions like, 'What movie should we see?' and, 'When should we hold our next soccer practice?'"
Also new to Groups: the option to upload entire albums directly to your Group—before, you were only able to upload individual pictures. Another new tool helps you upgrade to the new Groups format if you're using an older version.
[Want more tips, tricks and details on Facebook privacy? Check out CIO.com's Facebook Bible.]
If you're a Group "owner"—i.e. you created the group—or are a member of an older version, you'll receive information about how to upgrade to it in the next few weeks, Lynde says.
2. "Like" Button 2.0
Facebook rolled out the popular "Like" button a year ago, and now the company is announcing a new button that will be used by 50 external websites, called the "Send" button.
The Send button is a social plugin that websites can use to let you share a link quickly—much like the Like button does—but only with the members of the Groups you belong to. For example, if you're planning a trip and find a deal on a site such as Orbitz, you can share that link in a message to the members of that group.
The Send button is now available on websites including HuffingtonPost.com, WSJ.com and 1-800-Flowers.com (just in time for Mother's Day). You can add the Send button to your website by copying the code found on Facebook's Developers Blog.
Kristin Burnham covers consumer technology, social networking and Web 2.0 for CIO.com. Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Kristin at firstname.lastname@example.org
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