Facebook, which claims over 80 million monthly active users (MAU) for Groups in India, has announced a new Groups Discover feature for the country. Indian is the third country to get this after US — where it was launched in May — and UK. Groups Discover will help people find Facebook groups based on a particular topic like say food or sports.
“Over 1 billion people are using Facebook’s Groups per month. In India, we’ve seen topics like Parenting, Schools, Food and Sports being the leading ones. Very often the reason people turn to Groups on Facebook is because they’re looking for advice, for suggestions from similar people, or others who might be in a similar situation,” explained Adit Vaidya, Facebook Product Manager for Groups. Facebook has over 155 million MAU in India with over 77 million Daily Active Users (DAU).
So how will Discover work? “The results will be based on the keywords used in the query, or your interests. It will also include which city you might be living in at the time, as well,” says Vaidya.
In India, Facebook claims women are also participating actively in Groups, with spaces like MUMO or Mumbai Moms or Teachers Help Teachers or Breastfeeding Support for Indian Moms. MUMO was started by Neha Kare, a full-time working mom based in Mumbai, who wanted to connect with other mothers in the city. The group, which started in 2014, now has over 70,000 members, and the idea isn’t just to create a virtual space for mothers, but also help them connect offline. “Our tagline is ‘Ek break toh banta hai,’ and we encourage moms to meet each other as well. In fact, we have over 106 WhatsApp Groups based on locality and there are monthly get togethers as well,” says Khare.
But it is also a space for mothers to raise concerns about their children’s health, education, etc. “This is a space for mothers more importantly and not just about their kids. But when it comes to questions around health etc, we ensure only trained paediatricians are giving responses, and not just anyone,” she points out.
Another group which has managed to grow on Facebook is called Teachers Help Teachers, run by a former teacher Rakhee Chhabria who started it in 2015. While the group has 5,000 members now, Rakhee is the sole admin of the group. “The idea was to create a common resource sharing pool for teachers, around curriculum, what to expect in classrooms; basically a platform to raise issues that teachers face,” says Rakhee.
Rakhee who is currently the sole admin for her page, is pretty strict about who gets to join in. “If I don’t see teacher on the profile, I don’t let them join in. I don’t want to make it a parents, teachers kind of group. The idea is to raise awareness for teachers’ issue; help them share courses, curriculum; encourage them to ask questions. We even have some members from abroad, which adds a wider view for the group. Sometimes I tag them in a query, so as to get a perspective on how certain problems are dealt with in other countries,” she says.
For safety, admins have the option of appointing moderators who can then keep a tab on the kind of content that is posted on these groups. “Safety is a crucial aspect for Facebook and we have certain community standards. If we receive reports from users that these are not being followed, then yes we do take down the content. On government requests, we make sure it is a valid and legitimate request and only then the content is taken down,” says Deepali Liberhan, Manager, Public Policy. She adds though that it’s a myth that Facebook will take down content simply because too many users start reporting something as a violation, even if it is not.
For now Facebook says there are no plans to monetise Groups as a product and it remains ad-free. Interestingly, the Discover feature is yet to rollout on the official Groups app from Facebook.