Facebook Groups: privacy – should I choose ‘private’ or ‘public’?

Setting up a new Facebook Group? You need to decide now whether you want the privacy to be “private” or “public”. This short article helps you choose >>

It used to be the case that you could change the privacy setting of a Facebook Group from private to public at any point, but Facebook has stopped that. And, in fairness, that makes sense – if you join a group based on certain stated privacy settings, it’s a little unfair if that gets changed without your say so – this does have important implications for how we create groups in the first place though.

Creating a group

When you create a group (as of May 2020), you will see a panel such as:

Fig 1 – creating a group

You are asked to:

  • Name your group
  • Select Privacy
  • Hide group (which should really be a question) 

You can change the name of your group at any point so I’m not too worried about that here. However, the other two options, we need to be more careful with….

Select Privacy

Privacy has two options:

  • Private (by default)
    Only group members can see the group posts, and who are other members.
  • Public
    Anyone can see the group posts, and who are members.


To work out what is right for you, you need to consider the following:

Are you hoping that people will share content from your group?

If so, you need to set it to Public, they won’t be able to share if Private.

Tip: many businesses create groups to help promote their business (whether directly or indirectly), in which case Public is for you.


Policing who can join

With Private or Public you can set it up so that you have to accept members before they can join.



This dictates whether your group can be found in a Facebook search. Normally you would always want this to be yes.


Use cases

Let me chat through some use cases to see if this helps….

I recently created a WordPress Q&A group on Facebook. I made it private mistakenly thinking that was the only way to control applications (I just wanted to keep the spammers out); however, I now realise that I could have done with Public. As it is, the group is now Private and cannot be changed – the biggest loss here being that group members cannot easily share content from the group. I can always reconsider my options further down the line and if I need to make the big decision of migrating to a new Public group, that’s doable. However, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, getting this decision right from day one makes life easier!

Soon I shall be running a monthly membership program where paid-up members can have access to premium content. This will be a Private group, so that people can chat openly, and it can be exclusive. However, I would still like it found in Facebook Search, so I would not elect to hide the group.


Hope that helps




p.s. update: I actually bit the bullet here and started a new Facebook group with Public privacy. Whilst it was a minor hassle, it felt like the best time to do that was when the group was not too large and the migration process was, therefore, more manageable.

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