Facebook has always been a great place to share information with your friends and keep up with what they're doing. What hasn't been as easy is sharing information with small groups of people.
My wife and I take tons of pictures of our kids, and we frequently want to share them with just our immediate family. We could post these pictures to our profiles and hope our families see it. Or we could send individual messages to each of them. But there should be a simpler way to communicate with the whole family.
Today, we're launching a new version of Groups that does just that. With new Groups, we made it easy for you to build a space for important groups of people in your life—your family, your soccer team, your book club. All you have to do to get started is to create a group, add friends and start sharing.
When a group member posts to the group, everyone in the group will receive a notification about that post. Now I won't have to guess anymore about whether my parents saw the pictures I posted of their grandkids; when I post in my family group, I'll know that they've been notified about it and that only they will see it. Since information posted in my new groups is only visible to group members by default, I can feel confident about who sees what I post.
We've also added a bunch of new features to Groups to make sharing and communication with small groups of people easier. One of them is group chat, one of our most frequently requested features. Until now, you've only been able to chat with one person at a time on Facebook. Now you can chat with everyone in your group at once.
You can also use Groups as a replacement for mailing lists by setting up your group to send an email to you anytime anyone posts in it. You can even set up a group email address so members can keep in touch when they're not on Facebook—emails they send turn into posts in the group.
By default, new Groups are Closed. That means anything posted in the group is only visible to people in it. The name of the group and its members are still visible to everyone, so your friends can find the right group. You can also use the settings to create groups that have their name and members unlisted ("Secret"), or create groups that have more public settings ("Open").
Of course, creating a group for my family is just one of the possibilities for Groups. There are as many kinds of possible Groups as there are people on Facebook. Give it a try and create a few groups of your own at http://www.facebook.com/groups.
Daniel Chai, a Facebook engineer on the Groups team, is about to create a family group and make some grandparents happy.