Assuming you’re still on Facebook — and it’s totally OK if you deleted the service this week, it really is — the company just launched a new update to its Messenger app that gives you and you friends a lot more power over your group conversations (for whoever started them). Here’s how it works.
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)
Flexing your new admin powers against unwanted guests
Facebook Messenger’s new update gives admins of group conversations — the friend that added you and 45 other people to a conversation about an upcoming party, some funny picture they saw on the Internet, or cats — a lot more power over who can join the group at any point.
An admin could, for instance, use the approval process to ensure that nobody accidentally adds the subject of a surprise party to a group message about the planning process.
The problem with the feature is that Facebook — in its infinite wisdom — has decided to obfuscate these settings as much as it possibly can.
The great thing about admin privileges in Messenger is they work in the background; if your group chat doesn’t need that level of control, it won’t get in the way of your group messaging. You’ll have the option to decide if you’d like admin approval for approving new members, but this preference is off by default in your group chat settings.
It’s a little weird that Facebook is keeping these admin rights turned off by default. Isn’t the entire point that you want to preemptively stop people in groups from adding people who shouldn’t be in the group? If the birthday boy slips in while you’re all chatting about what flavour of cake you’re going to get for the big surprise, the moment is already ruined.
We suspect that most people making Facebook groups for their friends aren’t likely to bury themselves in a group’s settings menu — or know they even have approval rights as its creator.
When I tried testing my newfound powers, I tried setting up a brand-new group in Facebook with a few friends. I opened up the group, tapped on the group name, and scrolled down the settings page to find… nothing. Sigh.
It’s possible that the update hasn’t rolled out to me yet — if that’s how Facebook is doing this — but that’s where your new admin powers should theoretically be, if you have access to the feature.
Sharing your group gets a lot easier
Screenshot: David Murphy
In addition to admin rights, Facebook’s Messenger update also adds one other little feature: group links. Within the same group settings windows as before (accessed by tapping on the group’s name when you’re in the screen where you can send messages to the group), you’ll now find the option to “Invite to group with Link.”
Tap that, and you’ll get a unique URL that you can send along to anyone. When they click or tap on it, the link will pull up Messenger on their devices (or web browsers) and give them an easy way to join the group — a handy feature for adding people that you might not necessarily be friends with on Facebook, for whatever reason.
Any group member can create these customised invite links and start shooting them out en masse — and remember, with admin approvals turned off by default, your brand-new Messenger group might start blowing up before you have a chance to lock it down.