When Google+ launched in late June, it provided users with segmentation options that empowered them to selectively share information with friends and acquaintances. The segmentation options, which Google+ appropriately named “Circles,” allowed people to easily categorize relationships into Circles such as friends, family, or acquaintances. Finally, it was possible to share something with a close friend or family member and not broadcast that message to the other 400+ “friends” in your social network. The ability to create Circles and segment friends resulted in tens of millions of users, a feat that demanded Facebook’s attention.
Here are the official details from the screenshots that describe what Facebook has been working on.
What’s a Friend List?
- A quick way to organize friends so you can control what you see in your News Feed and post updates for specific people.
- Close Friends are trusted friends you want to hear from frequently.
- Acquaintances are people you want to see less of in News Feed.
- Restricted is a list of friends you never want to share with.
Facebook has had the Friend Lists feature for a long time, but few users actually know about it, and even fewer use it. Clearly the social networking giant is figuring out a way to fix the problem.
What’s a Smart Lists?
- You also have smart lists that update themselves for coworkers, classmates, and local friends. You can add or remove anyone to these lists at any time.
- (Coworker icon) This will be a list of friends who work with you.
- (Classmate icon) This will be a list of friends who attend school with you.
- (Local icon) This will be a list of people who live within 50 miles of your current city.
These lists appear to have two major uses. The first is for sharing content with: you can choose a list you created manually or one that was created for you from the drop-down menu in the bottom right of the “What’s on your mind?” status box. The second is for the News Feed: you will be able to filter your News Feed to only display content from one (or more?) of your friend lists.
The combination of Smart Lists, Friend Lists, and updated privacy settings will allow Facebook users to selectively and easily share information with their friends. Once a Facebook user’s friends have been segmented into a Smart List or Friend List, the user can share content with a specified list and filter the news feed by list. The increased competition between Facebook and Google+ should drive both services to become even better in the near future.