Facebook announced Tuesday that it is rolling out Friend Lists this week, chasing after the number one draw of Google+ with its Circles feature.
Writes product director Blake Ross on the Facebook Blog:
This week, it will be easier than ever to see more from the people you care about and simpler to share with exactly the right people using Friend Lists.
Want to see posts from your closest friends? Or perhaps you'd like to share a personal story with your family—without also telling all your co-workers. With improved Friend Lists, you can easily see updates from and share with different lists of friends.
Lists have existed for several years, but you've told us how time-consuming it is to organize lists for different parts of your life and keep them up to date.
Unlike Google+ Circles, however, Facebook is providing a tool that automatically groups your friends by information they’ve shared about their work, school, family and city. For example, if I have Pomona College listed on my profile, then a Friend List will automatically be created of all my Pomona friends, since Facebook will be rightfully assuming that to be our common ground.
While those four groups are a good starting point, our circles and social interactions are much more complex than that. Facebook has recognized this by letting users also build their own “Close Friends” and “Acquaintances” lists, which will help influence whose stories you see more of in the News Feed.
You’ll be able to switch between News Feeds generated for each of the Lists you have. Additionally, whenever you share something, you can share it with a specific List so that you’re broadcasting to the right people.
As Ross notes above, Facebook has enabled Lists for awhile, so any users that have created Lists in the past can continue using them. Most users will probably welcome the automatic Friends Lists though.
Also going forward, choosing a list will be part of the normal process of adding a friend.
Circles, which is the Google+ version of Friend Lists, was the social network’s biggest attraction. Now that Facebook has implemented the same feature, Google will have a much harder time drawing users to its social network.