Facebook is expanding access to a feature that allows group organizers to create curated live Messenger chat groups. It’s called Community Chats, and it’ll allow you to browse chats organized by announcements, topics, events, and more to connect with group members beyond just feed posts and comments.
Previewed earlier this year as “Community chat channels” in a larger Discord-like rethinking of Facebook Groups and Messenger group chats, the new Community Chats also resemble a casual version of workplace community platforms like Slack, Teams, and Zoom’s upcoming Team Chat. Finding inspiration in other apps is nothing new for Meta, even though progress on challenging TikTok with similar features in Instagram Reels has been unsteady.
The chats can go beyond just texting as well, with support for audio channels including up to 30 group members, and people can turn on their cameras to present or broadcast what they’re doing. In “the coming weeks,” tests will begin for a feature allowing you to Community Chat within Messenger and then generate a Facebook group, giving your casual group chat a more organized home base. Not all Groups currently have access to Chats, but parent company Meta says more will soon.
The biggest benefit for those who maintain large Facebook Groups is the ability to get instant responses on timely topics in the community. Think Pokémon Go Facebook Groups (are you still in one?) for a whole major city, but admins could create Messenger groups for different boroughs so people can stay connected to the next gym raid closest to them — the kind of organizing Discord has always excelled at.
Group admins will have a number of tools at their disposal designed to keep the community well maintained, including auto-moderation features that can boot members who post group-violating content. Admins can also manually block, mute, and suspend members, as well as delete their messages. For users, they can expect their privacy settings to remain consistent within the new Community Chats, and Facebook will use machine learning to automatically remove harmful messages at a “wider breadth” than it does in private Messenger chats.