Facebook tests the ability to share collections of curated content more publicly

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Facebook’s Collections, which allow users to organize content found on Facebook — like posts, photos, videos, and more —  are now becoming more broadly shareable. The company says it’s currently testing a feature in the U.S. market that will allow Facebook users to share curated collections with friends, contributors, or even the public.

Prior to this feature’s launch, saving content on Facebook was primarily a private bookmarking experience.

In December 2018, however, the company rolled out the ability to share an individual collection with a hand-picked list of Facebook friends. The idea, at the time, was to allow users to create a holiday wish list that you could then share with extended family and friends.

The new sharing functionality works much differently.

Instead of scrolling through a list of Facebook friends or performing a search to handpick users who can see your collection, you can now tap the new sharing button underneath the collection’s title to share it with broader groups of users.

Currently, you can choose to share the collection with the public, all your Facebook friends, just contributors, or only yourself.

“Only Me” remains the default, as before, while the “Contributors Only” option is the one to use if you still want to handpick select Facebook members to access your collection. But now, these users will be able to not only view but also add to and comment on the collection’s items, as collaborators.

The expanded Collections feature was spotted earlier by Twitter user @whimchic, who posted screenshots of the new experience. (See below).

Facebook declined to share any high-profile public examples of the feature in action, but observed that people have used the feature to share recipes, educational articles, health & wellness information, and even COVID-19 information with their Facebook friends and wider communities.

New – .@facebook shared #facebookcollections. Can share links, photos, posts, etc., which can be ‘followed’. #curatedcontent pic.twitter.com/Oah4eXW9dz

— whimchic (@whimchic) June 13, 2020

The addition of more publicly shareable collections is Facebook’s latest attempt to combat Pinterest, which today serves as the default social destination for curated collections of web content.

In fact, Facebook has been testing some form of “save” capabilities since 2012. Those tests evolved into Facebook’s Save feature in 2014 and “Sets” in 2017. Today, users can save posts for later access and optionally organize those into a thematic collection, which is by default, a private experience.

None of Facebook’s efforts to date have managed to offer a real threat to Pinterest, as there’s been no public sharing feature and no way to browse and discover collections others have shared.

That remains true even with the latest changes. While Facebook today lets you browse through your saves and even search for related items to add to your collection from within the revamped experience via an “Add More” button, there’s still no single destination on Facebook to find and follow collections others have created and shared.

But Facebook’s goal may no longer be about challenging Pinterest directly. Instead, it’s just chipping away at the need to visit any other platform to find your saved content. The company told TechCrunch the idea behind the latest changes is about helping people build community and togetherness. It says collections allow users to share their interests and express themselves with curated content.

Facebook confirmed the expanded sharing feature for Collections has been slowly rolling out over the past couple of months in the U.S. to users who have the latest version of the Facebook mobile app.

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