Why are my open group posts showing up in my friends’ feed?
Around June or July of 2011, Facebook made drastic changes to groups migrating old groups to the new group format. Users started complaining about their open group posts showing up in their friends’ feed.
How long has this been going on?
On October 19th, 2009 (almost two years ago), Facebook engineer Knot Pipatsrisawat announced in the Facebook Blog that this change will occur starting with a small group of test members. In the blog, Mr. Pipatsrisawat wrote:
Second, group activities, which previously only appeared in the group, will now be delivered to your News Feed. To ensure that you get the most interesting and relevant content from groups you’ve joined, you only will see stories when one of your friends posts within a group rather than when all members post. For example, you now will see a story when your friend uploads photos from a recent party at your high school alumni group or when one of your friends posts a message on the Wall of your pick-up soccer group saying that there is a special game this week.
Why did Facebook do this?
As with any changes on Facebook, there are upsides and downsides. The upside is that it expands networking by making more members aware of the groups. If you own a group about comedy movies and want as many relevant members as possible, having group postings in newsfeed helps add interested members. The downsides are addressed below.
What are the common complaints regarding this change?
The complaints are twofold. 1. Members do not want to see their feeds spammed with irrelevant posts from very active groups which they are not a member of. 2. Members of groups do not want to have their group posts broadcasted to non members. As to point one, Facebook is probably working to make the feeds less spammy but that’s just a guess. As to point two, the level of complaint depends on the nature of the group. For fairly benign groups, members don’t care. For more semi private groups like ‘people affected by downs syndrome’, the issues are far more complex. Facebook code cannot see a distinction between these two types of groups and treats them all the same.
Which type of groups are affected?
Only open groups are affected. Closed and secret groups are not affected. There have been reports in the Facebook support forum that closed group postings are showing up in feeds but I have been unable to reproduce this. I attribute some of these reports to people confusing their home page as what their friends see. Another possibility is that a friend has been added to a closed group and do not realize it so they are reporting that they are not a member of the group even though they are. Closed group posts will appear on your home page next to a lock icon indicating only members of the group can see that post.
Is there a way to stop open group postings to news feeds?
Not unless the group admin changes the group privacy setting from open to closed.
Will changing the group from open to closed stop the news feeds?
In theory yes but some group owners do not want to change their groups to closed. If the group has more than 250 members, the option to change from open to closed is not available.
Will changing the notifications stop group posts from appearing in feeds?
No. Notifications only affect what you see and how you are notified.
How do I change the privacy settings of groups under 250?
Go to Edit Group-Click the drop box next to Privacy. If you don’t see a drop box, your group has over 250 members.
Is this a privacy issue?
Not specifically. Open group postings have no expectation of privacy. Any Facebook members can see them if they simply go to the group. However, group membership is not advertised on member profiles unless they are also members of that group so strangers or friends will have to know where to find these groups. There is also the possibility that search engines may index open group postings now or in the future so members of open groups should not post anything in open groups they do not want others to see.
Why are the feeds inconsistent? Some friends see them, others don’t.
Facebook uses a secret algorithm to determine what shows up where, to whom, and how often. It is constantly evolving so you cannot compare the results between friends or even between your past feeds.
How can I see what open group posts get posted to feeds?
Feed updates are different than wall posts so going to your wall to check is pointless. The only way to see is to go to privacy settings and view your profile as another friend. To do this, go to Account-Privacy Settings-View Settings-Preview my profile-Enter name of a friend. Even doing this is a hit or miss (secret algorithm).
What is the solution?
There is no perfect solution. The ideal solution is to allow group admins to select the following:
- Allow all group posts to appear in feeds
- Allow no group post to appear in feeds
- Allow members to select if group posts appear in their feeds
Note that none of the above options will please everyone. What the group admin wants may not be what all the members want. Even if each member can select what goes out on their feed, another member can circumvent that and allow group posts to go on their feed so that option only addresses the spam issue but not the privacy issue.
What can Facebook users do?
There is not much users can do other than to give feedback. There is no point in reporting it as a bug as this is not a bug but a feature.
Should I report news feeds from groups as spam?
No. Doing so only serve to harm your friends. If you don’t want to see their group posts, simply click the X to the right of the post and choose Hide This post or Hide all post from this user.