The Difference Between Open & Private Groups on Facebook

By Sarah Morse

Only members can see what goes on in a secret group.
i Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images

As the administrator of a Facebook group, you set the tone for how it functions by choosing from a range of privacy settings. For an open, welcoming group that strives for more members, you can set the privacy to "Open." For a more private group where you want to keep the messages secret, you can set privacy to "Closed" or "Secret." The level you choose depends on the needs of the group.

Open Group

When you set the privacy of a group to "Open," it functions as the setting sounds. Any Facebook user can find the group with search and join it. Even without joining it, he can see all the posts to the group and a list of group members. He cannot post to the group, however, unless he becomes a member. If he does decide to join the open group, his friends may receive notification of the event in their news feeds.

Closed Group

The "Closed" setting makes your group much more private, or at least what goes on in the group more private. Facebook users who are not members can still find the group's listing in Facebook's search and see a list of members. They cannot see any posts in the group, however, and have to ask or be added by a group member to join. Once added, her friends may receive a notification that she has joined the group, just as if she had joined an open group.

Secret Group

If you create a group that needs complete privacy, set it to "Secret." Nonmembers cannot find secret groups in Facebook search, nor can they find it in any other way. They cannot post to the group and must be added by current members to join. Perhaps most importantly, only members can see a list of other members. This is the setting you choose if you do not want others to know you belong to this group or even that this group exists. No action -- joining or posting -- is reported to anyone outside of group members by way of news feed or other notifications.

Altering the Setting

You may find your privacy requirements for a group change over time, and Facebook allows for that. You can see the current status of your group by hovering over the icon next to the group's name on its homepage. If you want to change it to another setting, as long as you are the group admin you can click on the gear icon and choose "Edit Group Settings." In those settings, you will find the three different privacy options. You can change between them as often as you want.