Facebook Groups could soon look a lot like Discord

29 Jun 2022

Image: © prima91/Stock.adobe.com

New features, such as a sidebar with chat and audio channels, are being tested by Meta to attract more people to Facebook Groups.

Meta is making some significant changes to Facebook Groups by adding new features, such as a sidebar and channels, that have compelled many to compare the new interface with social platform Discord.

The new features are being tested to make Facebook Groups attractive to those looking for small, focused spaces for discussion on a range of topics.

A new left-aligned sidebar aims to help users to find their favourite groups quicker, listing groups and latest activity such as new posts and chats. Users can also pin their favourite groups so that they show up first, discover new groups and even create their own.

“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 yesterday (28 June).

Screenshots showing the sidebar and audio rooms features on Facebook Groups.

Sidebar and audio channels on Facebook Groups. Image: Meta

Admins will also soon be able to create channels within groups for casual conversations in smaller circles. These discussions can take place in three formats: text-based chats, audio channels and feeds.

While the community chat channels resemble Messenger, the audio conversation rooms look strikingly similar to Discord based on screenshots released by Meta. Some have picked up on the uncanny resemblance.

The Verge deputy editor 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.”

This comes after a leaked memo seen by The Verge signalled a shift in Meta policy to make Facebook feel more like TikTok, with video-heavy content.

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.

“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,” tweeted David Pierce of The Verge.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic