What Are Anonymous Posts in Facebook Groups And How To Make Them

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Facebook group for Facebook group admins

Facebook has some fantastic features for Groups. And one of them is anonymous posting (where a member can post without their name). However this is not an automatic feature available to all group types, and only Parenting Groups can let members post anonymously.

Does this mean your group has to be about Parenting to switch on anonymous posts?

No.

It does mean that the group type has to be Parenting in your settings (read this post to learn about Facebook Group Types), but this is doesn’t have much impact beyond accessing the additional feature, and in reality your group can be about any topic.

After turning on anonymous posting within our Long Distance Relationship Group, we’ve found that our members are more engaged, post more regularly, and have more honest, open, and authentic conversations. For groups which discuss sensitive issues, many people feel safer posting anonymously, when they don’t have to expose their identity.

So, what are anonymous posts in Facebook Groups? And how are they used? More importantly, how do you turn them on in your group, and what are the things you need to be aware of before you do?

In this article you’ll learn what anonymous posts on Facebook are, how to turn the feature on in your group, how members can post anonymously once the feature is active, and other pro tips you should know from our experience using them in highly engaged groups.

Jump to: What are anonymous posts I Why people want to post anonymously I How to enable I Moderating anonymous posts I How FB can improve the feature

What Are Anonymous Posts in Facebook Groups

Anonymous posts in Facebook groups allow members to publish posts anonymously, without a name. Their identities are not revealed to members of the group, and they stay completely anonymous in comments when interacting within discussion in that specific thread.

The identity of an anonymous post will still be visible and accessible to group admins and moderators, and will be visible to Facebook itself for enforcing their Community Standards, however to every other member of the group, they show up as ‘Group Member’, as in the screenshot below.

Post anonymously in Facebook Groups

Previously, members wondering how to publish anonymously on Facebook would message the group admins and ask them to post on their behalf. Which relies on the kindness of the admin / moderator they reach out to, and doesn’t give them the option to interact within the comments and actively engage in discussion.

The new feature, released in 2020, allows members to post natively within a group as they would for any other post, but without their name being shown.

Why Do People Want to Post Anonymously

People feel safer discussing sensitive topics in Facebook Groups when they are able to do so anonymously. This is especially true if the group is public.

And this is why the feature was rolled out specifically for parenting groups.

The idea of Facebook offering anonymous posts to parents is based on this specific group of people wanting a way to discuss topics they may not be comfortable sharing openly. That said, anonymous posting is a very useful feature for many other sensitive topics, and could be incredibly beneficial if your group discusses issues like:

  • Sex, sexuality, sexism, or sexual identity
  • Politics and religion
  • Marginalization and social exclusion, including racism, ageism, classism, or discrimination
  • Grief and loss, trauma, or violence
  • The experience of being part of vulnerable populations (i.e disabilities)
  • Job performance or competency
  • Personal questions about relationships
  • Money and financial hardship
  • Hygiene-related discussion (i.e ‘Should I be showering more than once a week?’)
  • Physical appearance and body parts
  • Personal struggle, like alcoholism or mental health
  • Ethically sensitive topics like animal tourism or breaking the law

There are many, many topics sensitive enough to benefit from anonymous posting, which is why our hope is that Facebook will make this a default feature available across all group types, as the recently did for Social Learning Units. But for the meantime, it’s simple and easy to change your group type to Parenting, and changing your group type really has no downsides.

Even when a group is private, people still feel far more comfortable knowing they can discuss sensitive issues via anonymous posting, whether because of friends, family and other connections are part of the same group (in our Long Distance Relationship Group this allows members to pose questions about their relationship with discretion, when their partner is also a member of the group), because they don’t wish to be contacted privately about their question, because they don’t wish to be embarrassed among their peers, or because they want to guarentee total privacy (ie anonymous posting means someone’s name can’t be screenshotted and forwarded on, despite a group being private).

Since enabling anonymous posting in Long Distance Relationships, the group is seeing a higher volume of posts, with more members posting, engagement has naturally increased, and the bonds between community members have been strengthened as more real, authentic topics are being discussed.

Anonymous posting has strengthened our community, and made it more valuable to members, which in turn makes it more valuable to us.

How to Enable Anonymous Posting in Your Facebook Group

Navigate to your Group Settings under the Admin Tools left sidebar. Within the box called Extra Features, click on the pencil icon to change your group type.

Hit save.

You’re done!

Anonymous posting is enabled, as it is a default feature of Parenting group types. You don’t have to do anything to toggle it on, and, most notably, you can’t turn it off (unless you change your group type – you can change your group Type as much as you like).

Does it matter if you change to a Parenting Group when your group is not about Parenting?

No, not really.

Group types simply define which features your group has access to. Beyond the additional features, this piece of information is publicly listed in your About Page, which is publicly available when a potential new member lands on your group (even if your group is private).

Choosing a group type which reflects the purpose and use of your group could be useful in helping prospective members decide whether or not to join.

For instance, it may confuse Facebook Users looking to Join a Long Distance Relationship Group if they see that the type is listed as a parenting group, and they may choose not to join. That said, this has not been our experience, and this group has continued with steady upwards growth regardless.

Keep in mind that user experience is what fuels group engagement and growth, unlocking viral growth potential by way of word of mouth, or member – member invites. So if the additional features offered by changing your group type vastly improves the member experience of your community, this will outweigh any potential downsides of having a confusing group type listed on your About page.

Plus, if your group name has the correct keywords, your group description has been optimized, your cover photo is well designed, and your Facebook group URL is personalized, the cosmetics of an off topic group type won’t have much affect on deterring potential members.

Parenting Groups on Facebook

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How to Post Anonymously on Facebook

Once your group type has been changed to Parenting, members posting to your group will have the option to create an ‘Anonymous Post’.

When they click to create an anonymous post, they will be presented with the following warning:

Your post will appear in this group without your name. Your name will still be visible to the group’s admins and moderators and to Facebook’s systems. Details you include in the post could reveal your identity to group members.

After they accept this warning, they are then able to write something anonymously, adding photos, videos, GIFS, checking in, asking for recommendations, or adding feelings / activities as any other normal post would. Anonymous posts can create polls, events, and prompts.

Anonymous posts in Facebook Groups (2)

Every member submitting an Anonymous post must complete a double opt-in. Once the author hits submit on their post, they then receive the same pop-up warning they received at the start of the process, and must hit submit a second time before it publishes.

Once submitted, the post will be sent to the group admins / moderators for approval. Even if post approval is not turned on for your group, you will still need to manually approve all anonymous posts to publish in the group feed. We assume this is because Facebook deems them to be risky, in forcing the hands on moderation of this feature.

You will receive a notification that a Group Member wishes to post anonymously. You can choose whether to accept or decline their post in the Pending Posts section of your Admin Tools panel.

Anonymous posting in Facebook

How to Moderate Anonymous Posts in a Facebook Group

When an anonymous post is submitted for admin approval, you as the admin will be able to see who has submitted the post. They grey box in the above screenshot provides information about the member and their group activity, such as their total posts, total anonymous posts (the percentage of which have been approved or rejected), and if they have been reported by other group members in the last 90 days.

This information is only available to the group admin, and will disappear once you have approved or rejected the post (you won’t be able to pull it back up to reference again later). This information is there to assist you in making your decision.

When you approve an anonymous post, you will be reminded that the post will be published to the group without the member name, and that you should not add any identifying information about the member in the comments. When you decline a post, you have the same options to offer feedback, or click the group rule the post violated as you do with normal posts.

Respecting member privacy

Remember not to slip up in your moderation of anonymous threads, by dropping the person’s name, or even their gender in their defense, i.e Sarah has asked a valid question, and you are expected to answer her politely’.

Instead, you should write ‘Group Member has asked a valid question, and you are expected to answer them politely’, using gender neutral pro-nouns, and the same terminology Facebook uses to identify anonymous posters.

We also suggest caution around messaging members whose anonymous posts you decline for not being in line with the group rules, as while you know who they are, and while they accept when submitting their post that the admin will see their name, they may still not be comfortable with uninvited contact about their sensitive situations.

Just because you can contact them about an anonymous post, doesn’t always mean you should.

In the below screenshot, an anonymous post was submitted which included issues and allegations of abuse, violence, and suicide, in an exceptionally detailed way, which was deemed not appropriate for our group. While our typical approach would be to message a member to explain how their question could be rephrased in line with the group rules, or to confirm if we can offer help or assistance, the expectation of remaining anonymous is not something to break lightly.

Instead, we go the route of inviting them in our declined feedback to message the admin if they so choose, so we can assist. This gives them the power of choice, and does not breach their privacy or make them feel uncomfortable, but makes them aware that the offer of help and assistance is there.

We aim to find a way to be helpful, while doing our best to avoid making it worse. You can also direct these members in your feedback to Facebook’s Emotional Health Resource hub at facebook.com/emotional_health

Anonymous Facebook post

Ways Facebook Could Improve This Feature

The ability to post anonymously within Facebook Groups is a fantastic feature, and it currently runs very smoothly. There are certain limitations to the functionality however, which are worthwhile keeping in mind, and which we feel could be improved.

  1. Currently, the feature only facilitates anonymous posting, and only the author may remain anonymous within the comments of the thread. The option for members to comment on other member’s threads anonymously is not currently offered, though we feel would greatly improve the experience – if members could contribute to sensitive discussions started by others, by commenting anonymously.
  1. Parenting groups automatically have this feature, and there is no way to turn it off. If you’re listed as a parenting group, you have to offer members the option to post anonymously, whether you like it or not (you can always decline all anonymous posts, though this would likely irritate your members when it’s presented as an option).
  1. There are also no current insights on member use of the feature, which would be a helpful data point for Facebook to include under Engagement Insights, i.e. to know the percentage of posts to the group which are anonymous vs those which are not. Currently, it’s easy to tell if you’re approving a large volume of anonymous posts that it has been a beneficial feature, however for those with teams who split the post approval duties, insights into the use of this feature would be quite valuable, especially if you’ve sacrificed features under other group types in favor of switching to a Parenting group for access to anonymous posts.

    In the meantime, if wanting to assess how group members feel about the anonymous posting feature, you can always run a poll.
Anonymous post in Facebook groups poll

4. Difficulty with long term access to the identity of the Anonymous Poster

A further limitation is that the identity behind an anonymous post is only available while in the pending post queue, and is not easily accessible by the admin team thereafter. What this means for a group with multiple admins or moderators (or a sole admin without a photographic memory!), is that you won’t easily be able to identify the member behind an anonymous post published by someone else, or published far enough in the past that you can’t remember who posted (for instance if an anonymous member starts abusing other members in the comments of the thread, and you need to remove them from the group).

There is a workaround to this, but it involves some investigation, and is not definitive.

When an admin or moderator clicks on ‘Group Member’ in an anonymous post (in our opinion this would be the most ideal place for Facebook to make available the identity of the author), you have information about which admin / moderator approved the post. This is clickable, and will take you to the group activity log, where you can start a search for the information.

Anonymous post in Facebook Group

Once you’re in the group Activity Log (part of your Admin Tools panel), select filters for the admin / moderator who approved the post, change the ‘Activity Type’ filter to Content Moderation, and set the date the post was published.

You will then be presented with a list of the moderator activity from that admin, and can narrow down the identity of the poster by the information. Notably, you won’t have a definitive answer here, as the approved anonymous post is not linked here, even though the action of approval has been logged.

If there were multiple anonymous posts approved on the same day, around the same time you may be out of luck, however generally, you should get your answer by matching the timestamp from the admin activity log to the timestamp on the anonymous post.

Anonymous Posting in Facebook Groups Activity Log
Facebook anonymous post in groups

5. Loss of anonymous post content

You can change your group type as many times as you like, freely and without limitation. However when you change your group from a Parenting group, be aware that all previous anonymous posts will disappear.

Facebook provides no warning or information that this will happen when you go to change your group type (which we would love to see improved), so it’s a case of realizing this is the case once it’s already happened (while it makes sense – the feature is only available to Parenting groups, so if you stop being a Parenting group, anonymous posts are no longer available – we believe it would be helpful for Facebook to add a pop-up warning).

Fortunately, if you change back to a Parenting Group, all previous anonymous posts re-appear and become available within the group again. But you can’t keep them if you decide to permanently move to a new group type (which is why we would love to see this feature made available as optional within other group types).

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Frequently Asked Questions about Anonymous Posts in Facebook Groups

Can I post anonymously in Facebook Groups?


Yes, but only in Parenting Facebook Groups. As an admin, you will need to change your group type in your Group settings.

Is anonymous posting available in both private and public groups?


Yes, anonymous posting can be turned on in both private and public groups. The group just needs to be set as a Parenting ‘type’.

Who can see my identity when I post anonymously in Facebook Groups?


Only the group admins / moderators, and Facebook itself can see the identity behind anonymous posts in groups. The identity of the poster remains hidden from all group members, including when they contribute to discussion in the comments of that thread.

Can you post anonymously on Facebook outside of groups? (ie Pages)


Not to our current knowledge. This feature is currently only available for Parenting Groups.

Why do people want to post anonymously?


People feel safer discussing sensitive topics in Facebook Groups when they are able to do so anonymously. This is especially true if the group is public.

Does it matter if you change to a Parenting Group when your group is not about Parenting?


No, it doesn’t. You can change your group to parenting just to access this feature. It doesn’t actually have to be about Parenting.

Facebook group for Facebook group admins

6 thoughts on “What Are Anonymous Posts in Facebook Groups And How To Make Them”

  1. Im afraid i might know the answer but here it goes… ( :

    Is there any way around it so you dont have to approve every anonymous post manually?

    Basically I’m trying to create a group for people to speak up where not even I want to know their identity…
    Like you said on your article, by setting it as a “Parenting Group” it seems to always override the “approve all members post OFF”

    Help? ( ;

    Reply
    • Hi Raul, unfortunately not – with this feature you do have to approve all your anon posts manually. I believe because the cloak of anonymity can empower people to say whatever they want to say without being identified, is why Facebook enforces moderation of this feature. I’ll update here if that ever changes though – I’m using them daily in our LDR group, so usually notice pretty quickly when the features change 🙂

      Reply
  2. I just changed my group to Parenting to enable anonymous posts. Since then it appears the group questions are not being answered. I had a friend ask to join. Clicked join button and immediately a message “Approval Pending” popped up. There was no requirement to answer the questions. I went and checked and sure enough I had her member request in the queue … no questions answered. This seems to have only happened since changing group to Parenting from General. This group deals with very sensitive topics, therefore, we need to closely vet anyone wishing the join. Group is private. Is there any way to prevent a request automatically going to “Membership Pending” when the necessary questions are not being answered first?

    Reply
    • Hi Judy, sounds like a very strange glitch – the group type shouldn’t affect the membership / questions process, as my two parenting groups still allow membership questions to be answered and this feature works smoothly, but I do know that there have been plenty of weird Facebook glitches lately that seem to have no logic behind them, so perhaps you could try and change the group type back to general, see if the issue resolves itself, and then switch back to parenting.

      I would check that your questions are still set, and haven’t been reset in a weird glitch when you switched group types, as this could have caused it. Also check if the members who are joining and you’re having this issue with have been invited by other members, as this could also be a cause: ie, the only reason a pending member should be able to skip the questions is if they’ve been invited by another member, and then pre-approved to join the group by the admin before they action the invite (ie as soon as a member invites someone to join they appear in your pending members queue without having answered the questions, and if you approve them, they’ve been preapproved to join straight away if they choose to join the group, which skips the questions step).

      Have a check that this is not the case too, that these members who haven’t answered questions haven’t been invited by other members.

      Hope that helps and that you get it fixed 🙂

      Reply

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