Facebook has announced that it’s removing the group chat functionality that it launched in October last year, which was designed to facilitate more intimate discussion between group members, separate from post comments.
As you can see here, Facebook will remove the function as of August 22nd. The reasons why Facebook has chosen to remove the option are not entirely clear, but it did provide this additional explanation of the update:
“- On Friday August 16th, the option to start a new chat in a Facebook Group will no longer be available.
- On Thursday August 22nd, existing chats in Facebook Groups will still be readable, but you will no longer be able to chat further.
Our team knows that it’s really valuable to communities on Facebook to be able to communicate in real-time the way that Chats in Facebook Groups enabled. The current product infrastructure doesn’t support Chats in Groups directly in the Facebook app, which can no longer support this feature.
That said, we are exploring new ways to support real-time communication for Groups, but don’t have any details to share about those future plans just yet.”
So the logic, seemingly, relates to system capacity, though the chat infrastucture is built on Messenger, which hosts chats from some 1.3 billion people, so that doesn’t entirely clarify, at least not from an outsider perspective.
What may be the cause is spam, and the increased capacity for people to “chat blast” group members through this function.
As noted by TechCrunch when the feature was launched, group chats are able to host up to 250 group members, who are not necessarily connected as friends, but are connected through a group. That means that any member of any group which hosts one of these chats has the capacity to spam these threads with their messaging, which would send a prompt to both Facebook and Messenger for each chat member.
The problem here is that as people become increasingly protective of their more intimate messaging, they may not be overly happy that some random stranger who they’re tangentially connected to via a group is able to send them a direct message via this option.
That’s only speculation – Facebook hasn’t provided any further clarification on the update beyond the above note, though it did provide some additional pointers to help members and Page admins manage the change.
• This change will not impact group chats in Messenger with your friends – only chats in your Facebook Group. You will still be able to start a group chat with anyone who you are friends with or are connected to in Messenger.
• In order to find a previous Chat in Facebook Group, you can search for the chat in Messenger by either typing (a) the group chat name or (b) the name of a member of the group chat.
• On August 22, it will appear in Chats in Facebook Group as though all members are “leaving” the chat. This isn’t because they are opting to leave, but rather, because it is part of “archiving” the chat.
Your alternative, at this stage, appears to be encouraging discussion in post comments, or starting a group chat with trusted connections, as opposed to all group members. That will be problematic for some, but it does appear that privacy concerns may be to blame.
We’ll keep you updated on any new options that may be able to replace the Group Chat functionality.