Meta-owned Facebook recently announced that it is testing out some new features for Facebook Groups, including Channels – in a bid to maintain its spot as the world’s largest social media platform.
As interesting as that sounds, it is rather disappointing that a prominent company like Meta which is expected to be novel and creative with updates are copying features from Discord.
According to the announcement, Facebook will offer a sidebar to neatly organize the groups for easier access. Also, it will offer channels, a feature that will help users connect in smaller, more casual settings within their groups.
Furthermore, Facebook group admins can now create channels to make conversations more personalized and rooted in a particular topic of interest. They can create community chat channels where users can share their views on a common topic of interest.
“For example, if you want quick access to the latest recipes in your cooking group, you can now pin it to the top, find related groups and be inspired to start your own,” – Meta wrote in an announcement on the 28th of June, 2022.
Similarly, there will be a community audio channels feature that will let admins create a voice conversations channel for members. The images shared in the official blog post showcase the option to jump into an audio channel.
Community feed channels will also be a part of the new update. It will offer a way for community members to connect to feed groups within a larger group. So, admins can create feed channels with niche content for members.
The changes are not yet available. According to the official statement, the new designs will be available to users in subsequent months.
Although the community chat channels resemble Messenger, the audio conversation rooms are similar to Discord based on screenshots released by Meta.
In that connection, Meta’s decision to copy Discord and Slack features have earned them quite a number of backlash on social media.
The deputy editor of The Verge, Alex Heath took to Twitter to write: “If you have a scaled social app that hasn’t been blatantly copied by Facebook at this point, you should take offence.”
The remark is coming after a leaked memo seen by The Verge in early June signalled a shift in Meta policy to make Facebook feel more like TikTok, with video-heavy content.
Recall that in 2020, Meta (then Facebook) launched Instagram Reels to take on TikTok with similar short-form videos and accompanying features, before rolling Reels out on the Facebook platform earlier this year.
David Pierce of The Verge also hit out at Meta:
“You really have to admire the extent to which Facebook is trying to be TikTok, and Snap, and Discord, and basically anything other than Facebook,”
However, the announced features are a massive help to Facebook’s app interface, especially for users that focus on bringing different information that may be out of topic or far from the conversation.