Facebook is launching a new Groups tab and plug-in

Facebook is rolling out a new Groups tab and plugin, announced CEO Mark Zuckerberg during his opening keynote at Facebook’s F8 developer conference this morning. The addition of the new Groups tab on Facebook will make groups a more central part of the Facebook experience, the CEO explained.

“In a community, you can meet new people who share your values – for some, this might be a support group for new parents. For others, it might be about a disease you have. Fo others, it might be about finding people to come together and volunteer,” he said.

“People want to be a part of meaningful communities,” Zuckerberg added.

The company also shared how large the Groups community on Facebook had become.

Today, 1.4 billion people on Facebook use Groups every month, and 200 million or so of the Facebook Groups are those the company deemed “meaningful.”

But as the number of groups available to Facebook users has grown, it’s become harder to keep up with those you interact with. Facebook previously offered a standalone Groups mobile app to address this problem, but shut it down last year. The Groups tab is the replacement, of sorts.

Like the app once did, the new tab will help people find all their Facebook groups in a single place.

Also like the now defunct app, Facebook is adding features that enable better discovery of new groups in this experience. But one feature that’s new to the tab that wasn’t in the standalone app is the addition of the “Watch Party” feature that lets group members watch video together.

“This is just the experience of watching the same frame of the same video at the same time with thousands of people all around the world,” said Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox.

Group leaders, video creators or audience members will also be able to take advantage of a new feature called live commentating that will let them put their face on the screen and narrate whatever it is they want to say about what’s being watching. The feature will make co-watching more social, the company says.

In addition to the new tab, the company is launching a new Groups plugin that admins and developers can add to their websites and emails that solicits people to join their Facebook group.

“Every great community has engaged leaders,” noted Zuckerberg of the new Groups features. “So a lot of what we need to do is just give more people the tools to be community leaders,” he said.