|Facelift for Facebook friends lists|
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 13:55
Facebook is rolling out improved Friends Lists this week, in another stab at Google+ Circles.
The latest updates follow the social network's overhaul of its privacy settings last month. This included the embedding of privacy controls in user profiles, such as a dropdown audience selector tool for new posts.
Director of product at Facebook Blake Ross posted the news of the further updates on the official Facebook blog last night.
“Lists have existed for several years, but you've told us how time-consuming it is to organise lists for different parts of your life and keep them up to date,” writes Ross.
The social network has announced three improvements to the lists feature. These include “Smart lists”, which are automatically created by Facebook based on the profile information that users have in common with certain friends – such as work, school, family and city.
The second addition is the “Close Friends, Acquaintances and Restricted lists” in which Ross explains users will be able to see the posts of their best friends in one place, while seeing less from people they aren't that close to.
“Add friends like old classmates or business contacts to your Acquaintances list and you'll see less of them in your News Feed. We'll still show you important things they post – like when they get married or move to a new city – so you don't lose touch completely,” says Ross.
When it comes to negotiating the minefield that can potentially be created by being friends with one's boss on Facebook, the social network says the “Restricted list” is designed for just such situations. People added to the Restricted list will only be able to view a user's public posts.
The final improvement is better suggestions for adding people to lists, according to Facebook. Ross emphasises, however, that lists are entirely optional and users will not have to use the feature if they do not want to.
Another feature that is similar to Google+, is that people added to certain lists will never be able to see what the name of that list is – so one's boss won't know that they've been relegated to the Restricted list.
They will, however, be able to see the names of the other people in that list, which may be a give-away. Ross says: “This gives them more context. For example, if I see that a post is shared with my five closest friends, I am much more likely to comment freely on it than I would be if I didn't know who else could see the post.”
Facebook is also testing a new feature to reduce the number of e-mail notifications that it sends to users.
Facebook said in a statement: “We're testing a feature for people who are very active on Facebook and receive lots of e-mail notifications from us. We'll provide a new summary e-mail and turn off most individual e-mail notifications. If you want to turn them back on, there's a control in your account settings.”
The Nielsen Social Media Report, published this week, found that Facebook is not only synonymous with social networking, but with Web use in general. During May, Americans spent a total of 53 billion minutes on Facebook – more than any other site or service.
The report showed that social networks and blogs make up for the lion's share of time spent online, accounting for 22.5% of the total time spent on the Internet.
Blogger ranked a distant second to Facebook with 723.8 million total minutes, followed by Tumblr with 623.5 million minutes. Americans also spent 565.2 million total minutes on Twitter in May and just 325.7 million minutes on LinkedIn. Google+ is yet to feature in the results, but time spent on the search engine itself was totalled at 12.5 billion minutes.
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