Facebook Tests New "Auto-Grouping" Friend Lists Feature

Facebook is experimenting with a new Google+-esque "auto-grouping" Friend list feature meant to streamline sharing on the social network, as well as provide users with more sharing controls.

When Google launched its latest social network, Google+, the service was heralded specifically for how easy it was to place contacts into different groups for sharing: one group for friends, one for coworkers, family members, acquaintances, etc.

Following the Google+ rollout, Facebook caught a lot of heat for how difficult it was to do the same thing on its social network. Critics asked why its privacy controls were so convoluted. Why wasn't it easier to group friends into lists?

Then came some improvements from Facebook. A few weeks ago, it announced an entirely revamped privacy center, intended to streamline your settings and make it easier to figure out who sees what on your profile. As with most changes Facebook makes, the privacy center was met with both praise and criticism.

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And now, that Facebook is going a step further in its bid to mimic Google+'s much more intuitive interface. Reports today say Facebook is testing a new feature that automatically groups friends into predetermined lists, presumably based on information in their profiles and how often you interact with them.

These "Smart Lists" group connections into three categories: one for friends that you work with; one for friends that attended school with you; and one for friends that live within a 50-mile radius of the city listed as your home on Facebook.


Smart Lists also apparently let you add and remove people from the preconfigured lists. Two more new features: the ability to filter your News Feed in order to see updates from only those on any of the lists, and the ability to share updates and photos only with specific lists.

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Facebook's Smart Lists appear to be a great feature that would cut down on the tedious and time-consuming maintenance of the current Friend lists system. Taking into consideration all the data it has collected from users and user activity over the years, I'd also presume the lists will likely be very accurate. Not only will your lists be organized a la Google+, but there will also be little need to curate on the user's end.

What do you think? Would you use Facebook's Smart Lists? What else would you like to see from them?

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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