You guys remember Facebook, right? It’s that site that used to exist before Google+ utterly destroyed it? Oh, they still exist? Well. You wouldn’t know it by the way Facebook has been sleeplessly competing with Google+ in an attempt to “keep up” with the social networking site that’s still a good 25x smaller than itself. Still, here. Have some Smart Lists!
Facebook is currently in the process of experimenting with a new feature called Smart Lists which are pretty much exactly what they sound like. Though, with a questionable definition of “smart”. The idea is simple: Facebook recognizes that Google+ has a point. Not all Friends are equal. There should be some sorting involved! Trouble is, where Google+ requires you to sort your friends as you add them, on Facebook you could already have thousands of friends. Who’s going to take the time to organize them all? Facebook of course!
Facebook has stepped up to the plate and created a feature that will sort friends based on three criteria:
- Friends who work with you.
- Friends who attend school with you.
- Friends who live within 50 miles of you.
So, to answer our earlier question, the definition of “smart”, here, is “being aware of 3 distinct categories of social interaction”. Because that is all there is. Ever. We’re left to wonder why Facebook chose the Buzz method of sorting your friends with arbitrary algorithms regardless of whether or not you asked, but hey, what else are you going to do?
To be fair to Facebook, this is a much needed improvement. They’re making efforts to help you sort your friends (you can now share status updates with specific groups of people only), and coworkers is a pretty good category to separate people out into. However, the trouble is that this method is simply inefficient. And inaccurate. I have a few friends that I hang out with on a regular basis that I used to work with. I have a dozen or so friends that I went to school with that I’ve added on Facebook, but only a few of those do I still want to talk to. And a range of 50-miles is scarcely able to distinguish between best friend, family member, or that dude who added you with the weird beard that you swear you’ve met, but can’t quite place.
Perhaps most curiously is that, while coworkers is a brilliant and necessary distinction and covers at least half of all the embarrassing status updates you don’t want to share, another equally-important category is conspicuously absent: family! How many entries on Failbook are from family members seeing or commenting on a particularly sensitive status update? Worse yet, it wouldn’t take much fancy math to create these lists: most folks already specifically designate family members in their info page. A bit of last-name magic to pick up the slack and we’re good to go.
Still, while it’s a patchwork solution, it’s nice to see Facebook getting back into the “social networking” aspect of social networking. As opposed to the “games and arbitrary redesigns and crappy chat knockoffs” aspects they’ve been focusing on so much lately.