Friday, September 16, 2011

Facebook Friend List Feature Gets Smart

"I get by with a little help from my friends." ~ John Lennon, English musician and singer-songwriter, and founding member of The Beatles

Did you know that Facebook added another feature, “Smart Friend List?”

The basis for this latest enhancement is that more and more Facebook users resist sharing content because they are connected to hundreds, if not thousands, of people with different interests. However, a user may be more likely to share more if they could segment their posts by their respective professional, family, friend, and community content. Also, this new feature can motivate visitors to be more engaged in their fellow friends’ respective content -- essentially, providing more of a solution to the existing, hardly-ever-used, “Friends Lists."

According to TechCrunch, Facebook already released this new feature but I just checked my Facebook, and couldn’t find it – I’m surmising it’s either still in Beta or still counter-intuitive. “Smart Friend List,” is conceptually similar to Google+ Circles, but different. “Smart Friend List” automatically builds upon a Facebook user's respective friends' profiles and enables the user to manually sort designated “Smart Friend Lists” or allow Facebook to automatically group. Another element is that “Smart Friend Lists” can be selected within privacy settings.

For example, when you opt in to the “Smart Friend List,” Facebook will automatically create "Smart Friend Lists" based on the demographics/geographics that you designate – e.g., colleges, employers, associations, cities, etc. Users have flexibility to manually edit these lists and also publish and filter to specific lists. Users will also have the ability to manually create 3 relationship levels within privacy settings -- “Close Friends,” “Acquaintances,” and “Restricted.” Connections you place in “Close Friends” will see everything you post; “Acquaintances” functions more like filter for news feed, allowing you to control what type of news feeds you want from a Facebook friend (e.g., new job or wedding announcements, etc.). This solves the issue of overloading your news feeds with excessive mundane posts from friends. “Restricted” are for those connections that you wish to be only allowed to view your public information (can be a competitor, relative, boss, etc.)

So is there really a need for "Smart Friend List?" According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, there really wasn’t much of a need because categorizing friends is difficult and less than five percent of Facebook's 750 million users, still a significant audience size, utilize the original Friends List tool. Facebook’s enhancement will certainly have plenty of feedback -- about 37 million potential “Smart Friend List” users. It will be interesting to see the growing reactions of “Smart Friend List” posted on Facebook blogs.

Many may choose to not welcome "Smart Friend List" for various reasons including the resistance to expose relationship information to Facebook’s interface. I'm OK with school, neighborhood, company, etc., But why would Facebook users want the world to know who their "Close Friends" are? There are all different sorts of predators on the internet, and this piece of information we can do without. Many more may prefer to leave their settings as is since it is time consuming to set up who should receive what and end up prefering to receive everything and post to everyone.

On the other hand some may have interesting information that would be dull for many of their Facebook friends, but truly amazing for another segment of friends. This new tool just might be the perfect solution to fulfill that communication need.

I have a concern for the children who are still using Facebook without parental permission or adequate parental monitoring their usage. A tool of this nature in the wrong hands may contribute to an already serious Facebook issue. According to an article on on May 2011, there were 7.5 million children under 13 with accounts, violating the site's terms [1].

More information at the following Web sites:

• The Facebook Blog - Improved Friend Lists
• Facebook Smart Lists Automatically Group Friends With Shared Characteristics for Use With Privacy Settings
• Inside Facebook


smart friend list         13,400    60,200,000

Here's another notable quote about friends:

"Your friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you." ~ Elbert Hubard, American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher

1. Five million Facebook users are 10 or younger". May 10, 2011. Retrieved May 15, 2011


  1. I tried categorizing people but gave up. It was time-consuming. Facebook at its worst. My real friends know who they are.

  2. You have a way of matching great quotes to your blog posts. I don’t use FB as much as the average person and do not think there is a need for a “Smart Friend List,” and am not grouping my friends.

  3. I like your blog “allthingsdigitalmarketing.” I also enjoy reading this article about Facebook Smart Friend List. Not sure users would want to spend time grouping on this. The beauty of FB right now is the ease of interacting. I do not think friends are for segmenting.

  4. The number of people using FB is amazing high but I do not think there is a need to segment friends. Who has the time to do that?