Are Facebook Groups The Worst Spam Loophole in the World?

Unless you’ve been holed up in a cave this past weekend (even in Duluth it’s not quite hibernation season…) you’ve surely heard that Facebook recently revamped Groups, nearly beyond recognition. With the revamp, all 500 million registered Facebookers were instantly granted the ability to create their own Groups, to which friends can be added as “members” and then sent updates en masse. Seems to be nothing out of the ordinary. Did we mention these updates are also sent to members’ personal email accounts on an opt-out basis? Or that Group creators don’t need permission to add friends as members? Yeah – Facebook decided to forgo the whole “invitation” process. And lest we forget, the cherry on top – the little box under Privacy setting Facebookers might “check” to block friends from adding them to random Groups… doesn’t… exist… (yet).

Seeing as we frequent the Facebook platform professionally & personally, we wanted to get a deeper understanding of Groups– from the basics of creation to the extent friends’ FB experiences would be impacted as Group members. Moreover, we wanted to affirm our instinctual conclusion… that this overhaul of Groups had essentially birthed the most glaring spam loophole the Facebook platform has seen in quite some time. Read on for a run-through of the experiment along with instructions & illustrations on how to spam the snot out of your FB friends.

Click on “Groups” in your left sidebar. (Ignore the “create group” label shown below– it won’t appear until you have created your first group.)

This will open the main Groups section. Notice the + Create Group button. Click it.

Now you can create your first group & add preliminary victims members:

You can choose to make your group open, closed, or secret as well as give your group a unique icon:

After you click “Create,” you will be taken to the Group page (notice the new Group is now in your sidebar):

From here you can adjust various (though limited) member settings. These are the default settings as seen by each member:

You can tweak basic Group information:

And add members/admins:

You can also instantly chat with anyone in the group when they go online! Whee!

For the creator of the Group, everything seems nice & dandy… predictable & expected! But let’s take a peek at what things look like for some unsuspecting friends (a.k.a. forced Group members)… Here’s one forced member’s personal email inbox. See how it populates with opt-out notifications from group activity!

Her Facebook News Feed blows up with the same opt-out notifications, & she sees the same updates when she clicks on the Group name in the sidebar:

Back to Facebook Chat, the functionality is so fully integrated with Groups that members cannot make themselves visible or invisible exclusively to a Group– it’s all or nothing.

It stands to note that any Group member can view entire Group chat history, even from times when they were not signed on… Check out the screen shot below– the first 5 lines of chat were posted when only the Group creator was signed on. One by one as members went online, they could view complete chat transcripts from the start of the conversation:

So now that you’ve seen what we’e seen… do you agree? Are Facebook Groups the worst spam loophole in the world?

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