Chatrooms and Instant Messanger dominated the early years of the internet and created some incredible connections. They also created some very dark and dangerous moments. With Facebook constantly evolving and the need for a connection with others becoming more important, are we seeing the rebirth of a safer forum space online?
Remember the very first time you joined Facebook? You were able to connect with your friends and family members as you were heading off to college, staying in touch with friends at the moment, or reconnection with friends and relatives you might not have seen in over thirty years. Facebook, despite its sometimes challenging marketing systems and the roadblocks it places on small businesses, can be an amazing tool. Through the pandemic, we have seen this even more so. While we were at home we were able to see the news, see our friends, shared truths, shared things that made us laugh, and shared things we believe in. There is a reason why Facebook is such a successful platform and why Mark Zuckerburg has become the businessman he is today. From its humble beginnings in 2004 when we were all friends with Tom Anderson (please look that up if you don't remember) to now employing over 48,000 people, the way Zuckerburg intended communities and gathers to appear has evolved into something much different than planned. In this blog, we will be discussing how Facebook groups could be bringing back the culture of forums, and if this is a positive thing or not.
Groups are something that has become such an integral part of Facebook, to not be included in one is strange. According to The Atlantic, more than 400 million Facebook users are involved in a group of some kind. This popularity has lead Mark Zuckerburg, the creator and founder of Facebook, to start focusing entirely on Facebook groups. His goal, reports The Atlantic, is to create a small network of communities that would be the equivalent of a "living room" letting you interact with anyone you want on the popular platform safely and privately. But, there is more to Facebook than just your traditional Facebook groups. There is also another very popular platform on Facebook, similar to groups, that is dominating its servers. This is called the tag group. You will see these tag groups appear as bold catchphrases or sayings that are tagged in the comments of any picture, post, or video on Facebook. These tag groups can be about or linked to any catchphrase, saying, or any idea possible. Once you join them, a tag group is similar to a subculture. It can be used in a positive way to combat ugliness found on Facebook and can bring you together with likeminded individuals. You can thank these tag groups for supplying you with tons of random memes, strongly opinionated posts, and videos from strangers that you might love seeing on your feed - or not! Facebook is home to thousands of these tag groups. Some view them as a great place to safely share your option, while others are now viewing them as new ways to be a bully, according to Intellectual Takeout.
Although you might not be a huge fan of some of the content that appears on your page when you purposefully or even accidentally join a tag group when you find one that's perfect, you find a welcomed escape from the internet world around you. You are seeing what you want to see, and you're able to share and talk about your options with other liked minded individuals, more often than not, in a very safe way. Does this ring a bell to you? Sounds like the early days of chat rooms and forums! You can use these groups to your advantage, tagging them in the comments of a post so those in your tag group can see it, providing a laugh or support from another group member to prove a point. According to The Atlantic, these tag groups offer a sense of comfort and can allow you to meet like-minded people in a safe zone, getting rid of the bad reputation that chat rooms carry when it comes to meeting people. They allow you to take comfort in knowing the bonds you're creating are with individuals who share a core understanding because you both go looking for the same things. It's what brought you to this group. Chat rooms are open ground for anyone to walk in and take advantage of someone because the only thing they have in common is the chat room they both logged into.
It looks like, even though the platform is very successful, Facebook is not connecting to the popularity of these tag groups. They aren't as supported as users might suspect them to be, especially since so many of the platform users are now apart of tag groups. Facebook has recently gone after meme tag groups for too much activity, making groups impossible to find or even deleting them. With such a huge part of the Facebook world being edited, affected, and changed - what could this mean for those who love these groups and have depended on them during the pandemic? We are also interested to see if these tag groups are going to be recognized as regular groups are if their popularity continues.
There is still another side to the tag group. As good as they might sound, you might want to take them with a grain of salt. As much as we love a great tag group that supports equal rights, funny animal pictures, and positive quotes to get your day started, there are just as many tag groups that support some very questionable, hateful, and potentially violent ideals as well. It's connecting people who believe in anything and everything. Could this be a positive thing? Is that why Facebook is wanting to create their own versions of groups and tame the rampant growth of tag groups? It looks like the future will be the one to decide that! What do you think? Do you feel that tag groups are harmless, annoying, or something that needs to be paid attention to? Comment below and let us know what you think!