Facebook's New Friend Lists: 6 Things You Need to Know

Facebook just launched a new feature that lets you quickly group friends into lists to make sharing with certain people easier. Here are six important facts you should know before you get started.

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Thu, September 15, 2011

CIO — Last week, reports swirled that Facebook was testing a new friend list feature that bore a resemblance to Google+ Circles. One difference was that Facebook's "Smart Lists" do the work for you, automatically grouping your friends into lists such as work, school, family and city. Now, Facebook says, this feature is going primetime and will be available to everyone this week.

This newest update follows Facebook's redesign of its privacy settings, which many believed was also influenced by Google+.

Facebook's new friend lists, which is an optional feature, is essentially a redesign of a feature it's had for years—Lists. The original Lists were difficult to navigate and tedious to update, which, Facebook Product Developer Blake Ross said in a blog post, was the reason for the revamp.

Here are six important facts you need to know about the new friend lists before you get started.

1. Smart Lists group some of your friends automatically. If you choose to partake in Smart Lists, Facebook will generate four separate lists for you: work, school, family and city. Facebook puts people into these lists based on information they have in their profile. For example, if you list Harvard University as your alma mater, and so do 25 of your Facebook friends, they will be grouped under "school." The same goes for family members, work colleagues and people who live near you.

These four lists will be updated automatically, so there is little or no maintenance—a big improvement from before. You can also add or remove friends manually to make the list more accurate.

2. Two additional lists let you separate best friends from acquaintances. While Facebook is touting its Smart Lists as its main attraction, it's also rolling out two lists that you curate on your own to distinguish close friends from people you don't know well.

By including people in your Close Friends list, you can sort your News Feed for only their posts, as well as choose to receive notifications when they post updates, so you don't miss anything.

Facebook recommends adding people such as old classmates and business contacts to the "Acquaintances" list. By doing so, you'll see fewer updates from them in your News Feed. You will, however, see updates when they post something important, Facebook says, such as when they get married or move to a new city, so you can remain in touch.

[Want more Facebook tips, tricks and analysis? Check out CIO.com's Facebook Bible.]

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