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Managing a Facebook group is hard. Zuckerberg is trying to make it better

The social network is adding new features after revamping Facebook Groups.

Last year, Facebook changed its mission to focus on communities.

James Martin

Nearly a year ago, Mark Zuckerberg got on a stage in Chicago and set a new mission for his social network. No longer would Facebook merely be focused on "making the world more open and connected." Now, it wanted to "give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together."

This year, the company's building on that promise to focus on communities with a series of updates to the tools Facebook offers to community managers, such as specialized support teams, education resources to help them better understand how Facebook works, and clear ways to communicate with problem members.

"It's really about how do we help those community managers manage their communities?" said Alex Deve, product management director for Facebook Groups. "Communities are the heart of the ecosystem."

The changes can't come quickly enough. This past year has been a trying time for Zuck and co. A series of scandals, from Russian meddling in the US election to accusations the site was silencing conservative voices to a massive data leak that Facebook said affected up to 87 million users shattered many people's trust in the 14-year-old company and its multibillionaire cofounder.

Now, Facebook is in the fix-it stage. In January of this year, Zuckerberg said his goal was to solve many of the existential questions facing the social network, "making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent." So far, users continue to grow, most recently tallying 2.2 billion who log in at least once a month. Revenue and profits are up too.

Part of the reason is that Facebook is still compelling enough for people to log on and check what their friends are up to, even if it's just to see recent baby photos.

Most of these new features for Facebook groups are tools designed to help administrators do their jobs managing groups of sometimes thousands or millions of members.

admin-support-overall

A look at what Facebook's support service for group administrators will look like.

Facebook

For example, Facebook is making it easy for group admins to pre-approve members, giving them an open invitation to post on a group page that otherwise is carefully curated.

Another is better ways to communicate. Facebook said it's testing an "admin support" system on the site, where community moderators can go to ask questions and report issues. 

Facebook's also making it easier for administrators to communicate with problem members, helping them better understand which rules they broke instead of merely being kicked out of a group, which was sometimes the only recourse for some moderators.

Finally, Facebook's going to offer online education so administrators know how tools work and what features they may not even have tried.

"The management tasks take a lot of time," Deve said. "It's really about giving them the support they need."

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