Playing around with a recently created Facebook group, I discovered a travesty I hadn’t been aware of. At one point, Facebook allowed groups to send messages to their members, and invite their members to events. That is mostly what these groups are for after all, to keep up with the goings on of whatever organization.
More recently, those features have been removed. Group admins cannot mass-message their members, nor can they invite anyone who is not already their friend to group events. This is a huge hit to the core purpose of the groups feature, making it far less effective and useful. The only way to reach out to group members is now to post your message to the group page, and hope members happen to check the page or check their newsfeed if they happen to be one of the small minority of group members on whose newsfeed Facebook will post the message.
So why would Facebook make this change? The obvious reason emerges the moment you look at a group page from the Admin side. The page is covered in advertisements to “Promote Page” or “Boost Post”. Basically you pay Facebook to put put your posts on the newsfeeds of a larger number of your members. A service that was once offered for free, getting group posts onto member newsfeeds, now costs money, and competing ways to accomplish the same goal, mass-messages and group invites, are eliminated altogether.
Not only is this annoying on an individual level, it has consequences for what kind of posts you’ll see in your newsfeed. Instead of being based on what you’re interested in hearing about, it’s based on which of the groups you follow are willing to shell out more money to Facebook. This helps make social media, which is supposed to be a way for people to communicate freely, into one more medium dominated by whoever has the deepest pockets.
There is simply no justification for preventing groups from effectively contacting their members except for Facebook allowing it’s greed to get in the way of a good user experience. This may pay dividends in the short term, but I can only hope that this kind of disrespect will hurt their business model in the long term. Why keep coming back to a supposedly social network that is bad at social networking and tries to bilk money out of you at every opportunity? It is certainly encouraging me to find alternative ways of reaching people.