Facebook groups are usually set up to bring together people who share a common interest. That might be a hobby or leisure activity, a political viewpoint, a charitable cause, or perhaps a specific geographical area (the town in which you live, for instance). Such groups can also be used for professional purposes. As an editor, I belong to several editing-related Facebook groups, including Editors’ Association of Earth, Academic Editors and PerfectIt Users.
The three types of Facebook group
How do you tell what type of group you’re joining?
Privacy in public groups
- The basic details of a public group – its name and the description – can be viewed by anyone, even if they’re not on Facebook. The group will also show up in a Google search.
- Within Facebook, anyone can see a list of the group’s members. That might not seem like a big deal, particularly if the public group you’re in is devoted to professional issues or to a fairly mainstream hobby. But there may well be some groups that you’d prefer other people – your family, friends, business associates, clients, potential clients – not to know you’ve joined.
- Anyone, whether they’re on Facebook or not, can see posts within a public group. Let’s take a moment to think about that. Even if you know all the people in a public group and are happy for them to see your posts and comments, it’s worth remembering that your contributions to the group go far wider than that (and, in fact, far wider than Facebook).
Many of us take the time and trouble to protect our personal profile on Facebook – hiding our private information and limiting the audience for posts on our own timeline – but that won’t protect any posts or comments we contribute to a public group. What’s more, posts to a public group might even show up in our friends’ newsfeeds.
Should you steer clear of public groups on Facebook?
- Before you join a group, check what type it is. If it’s public, decide whether you want everyone on Facebook to know you’re a member.
- Before you post or comment within a public group, take a moment to think about what you’re going to say. Are you happy for everyone – whether or not they’re on Facebook – to read your contribution? That includes not only family members, friends and acquaintances but also business associates, clients, potential clients, your employer and potential employers.
- Before you post or comment within any type of Facebook group – public, closed or secret – take a moment to think about how the other members of the group will view your contribution. If these are professional colleagues, keeping your cool and showing your best side makes good business sense!