When Facebook Groups launched last October, it came with a fatal flaw for those worried about keeping their activities private: Any group member was able to invite other people in without permission.
It was an idealistic approach to social networking that assumed groups would regulate themselves according to societal pressure. Invite the wrong person, the logic went, and you might end up an outcast. But that’s not good enough when there’s a record of everything you’ve posted. Imagine gossiping about someone who then becomes part of the group and can see everything you’ve written. Or imagine talking about business with co-workers only to see a competitor invited by a disgruntled employee.
With that in mind, Facebook has added a control for group owners who want to approve new members.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about with this Facebook Groups business, allow me to explain: As the name suggests, it’s a system for sharing status updates, photos, e-mail blasts and event invites to a subset of contacts. A previous version of Facebook Groups is still available, but the new system adds more features, is meant for smaller numbers of people and can only be joined by invite. The new approval option should increase the appeal of groups for companies, tight-knit friends or families who don’t want to risk exposing their discussions to outsiders.
In addition to this option, Facebook’s added a few other features to groups, including Questions, photo album sharing, an upgrade tool for users of old Groups and a “Send” button, which is the equivalent of “Like” but for groups instead of your entire network.