Facebook makes it easier to group friends with 'Smart Lists'
It's official: Facebook has come up with an easier way for you to share photos, posts and updates with smaller groups of friends.
We originally reported on this new feature called "Smart Lists,"which automatically groups friends, last week. It borrows from the success that Google's new social networking service Google+ has enjoyed with its Circles feature, which lets users place friends into groups.
Managing your friends has long been a problem on Facebook. Facebook gave its users a way to separate their friends into different groups in 2007, but only a fraction of users did it because it took so much time and effort.
Now Facebook automatically groups friends based on whether they work with you, are related to you, went to school with you or live near you, giving you the option to share information with just these cliques rather than all of your hundreds of friends. The feature is optional and you can customize the lists.
Facebook now also lets you distinguish between close friends and acquaintances. Creating a list of "close friends" will make sure that you see the posts from the people you care about most. Grouping other people into "acquaintances" will mean you will see less of them.
The new features are part of Facebook's push to give its users greater control over how they use the social network as it faces a surge of competition from Google+. That's a new attitude from the world's largest social networking service, which for years pushed its users to share as much with as many people as possible.
Last month Facebook moved privacy controls from a separate page to users' home and profile pages.
Google has not reported on how many people use Google+ since July, when it said that more than 10 million people had joined. Google+ is still in what Google calls a limited field trial. Google has said it plans to add games and business pages to Google+.
-- Jessica Guynn