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Facebook Streamlines Groups, Tests New Homepage Feeds

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Facebook has a couple of changes in store and they'll affect the way you interact with the site. The first change you'll see pertains to Groups. The pages for Groups will now look like the profile pages of members. There will be a Wall and you can click tabs for Info, Photos, and Discussions to view those sections.

Here's a screenshot of the Search Engine Watch group (which you can join here).

facebook102009newgroupssewpage.png

Some group activities will also be included in your News Feed. If one of your Facebook friends, who is a member of the same Group as you are, posts to that group, you'll see it. Otherwise, you'll still need to head to the Group page to see all of the activity of the Group.

If you don't see the changes to groups yet, hold tight. As with most updates, they're being rolled out over a few days.

Meanwhile, Mashable's Ben Parr, who was a friendly face in the press room last year at SES Chicago, got his hands on a four-page document outlining Facebook's new homepage changes. Yes, that's right. Facebook is changing their homepage AGAIN.

Facebook will be introducing two views: Top News and Recent Activity. Top News will prioritize the most important updates in your network (think birthdays) while Recent Activity will be essentially what you see with your current News Feed right now - a chronological timeline of updates with the most recent at the top of the feed.

Facebook anticipates that users will toggle between the two views. I must admit, their initial iPhone app did this - and they didn't do a good job with the "Top News" feed. They recently updated the app and did away with the focus on the Top News feed, which I hoped meant they were forgetting about it, but apparently not.

Here's the problem: Facebook has to determine which of your friend's updates are "Top News." Some people in my network I am obviously closer to than others. So I may indeed care about what my husband is having for lunch (we're watching my calories) than the birthday of someone who I haven't seen since college (but it's still nice to see what they're up to).

Now for some good news: Facebook will be reintroducing things they nixed with the last News Feed update. Photo tags, friend acceptances, group memberships, and RSVPs are coming back. Many Facebook users were sad to see them go, so they'll be happy they're back.

This will also be happy news for brands, as more people will see their friends interactions with brands on Facebook. For example, if you RSVP that you're going to attend the premiere of a movie, your friends will see it and it will help spread the word about that movie. Also, Facebook expects this to increase the number of members that become fans on brand pages.

What do you think about all of these Facebook updates? Share your thoughts in the comments.


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