Facebook and Messenger take inspiration from Discord for new community chats

Two screenshots of the Facebook app are shown on two iPhone X devices floating against a pink and blue cloud background.  The screens show an example of a chat in a group called Women Who Surf
A Facebook group called “Women Who Surf” has several new community chats for instant engagement with its members. | Image: Meta

Facebook is expanding access to a feature that lets group organizers create curated live Messenger chat groups. This is called Community Discussions, and it will allow you to browse discussions organized by announcements, topics, events, and more. to connect with group members beyond posts and comments.

Previewed earlier this year as “community chat channels” in a broader overhaul of Facebook groups and Messenger group chats, the new community chats also look like a casual version of workplace community platforms like Slack, Teams and Zoom’s next team chat. Finding inspiration in other apps isn’t new to Meta, though progress on TikTok challenging with similar features in Instagram Reels has been shaky.

Chats can also go beyond texting, with support for audio channels of up to 30 group members, and users can turn on their cameras to present or broadcast what they’re up to. In “the coming weeks,” testing will begin for a feature that lets you community chat in Messenger and then spawn 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 running large Facebook groups is the ability to get instant answers on hot topics in the community. Think Pokemon Go Facebook groups (are you still in one?) for an entire big city, but admins could create Messenger groups for different boroughs so people can stay connected to the next gym raid closest to them – the type of he Discord organization has always excelled.

Three simulated phone screens, showing examples of community chat groups accessed through Meta's Messenger app.
Image: Meta
Community chats displayed in the Messenger app

Group admins will have a number of tools at their disposal designed to keep the community well-maintained, including automatic moderation features that can kick off members who post content that violates the group. Admins can also manually block, deactivate, and suspend members, as well as delete their posts. For users, they can expect their privacy settings to remain consistent in new community chats, and Facebook will use machine learning to automatically delete harmful messages at a “wider breadth” than in private Messenger chats. .

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