An Introduction to Facebook’s New List System

Facebook has once again made a change to the user interface of its website. Now, friend lists can be accessed from the sidebar of the homepage. Before, it was hidden in the depths of drop down menus where everyday users would never find them.

Lists allow users friends to be categorized in order to share and see updates with certain groups of people. For example, one could have a list of their best friends, and another list for people they work with.

Facebook automatically generates some lists based on your and your friends’ profile information. Lists are automatically created for the family you’ve listed, the places you’ve worked, the schools you’ve gone to, and posts from the city your currently in. It also creates a “close friends” list and an “acquaintances” list to help users get started who are new to Facebook’s friend lists.

With this change, Facebook has brought a number of new options for groups.  To find these options, open the list by selecting it from the left sidebar on the homepage (if it’s not there, click more). In the top right corner of the page is a “Manage List” drop down menu. From here, users can manage the types of updates they want to see while viewing the list, merge the list with another one, or add and remove friends/pages from the list.

Merging is one of the new features available. It allows two lists to be brought into one. For example, Facebook automatically creates a “family” list. It’s convenient enough to merge the old family list a user may have already created with the new one Facebook made. (One thing I don’t like about it is that after merging, the old list is deleted. It would be ideal if a list could be merged into another but not be deleted afterward).

Facebook has also made a difference between being friends and being subscribed. Users can be friends with someone on Facebook, but not be subscribed (which means the user wouldn’t see their updates in his/her news feed). This is good for users who just need to add someone to keep in contact with them, not to know what is going on in their life.  By default, a user is automatically subscribed to “most updates” when they become friends. This can be changed by opening their profile and clicking on the “Subscribed” button to change options.

Facebook has, as I just mentioned, also added a few more options while viewing friends’ profiles. Users can set what types of updates they want to see from a particular friend  in their news feed right from their profile. For example, a user can choose to see status updates from a friend, but not the photos they post. To do this, click on the “subscribed” button on any user’s profile.

Their is now also an option to add friends to a list right from their profile. Previously it was hid in the background just as much as lists were. Now, it’s convenient to add friends to lists in order to better manage who users are sharing with.

With the introduction of these new options, Facebook has introduced a “restricted” list. This makes it easy to only share publicly visible information with certain friends. Users can find this list by clicking on “more” next to lists in the left hand sidebar of the homepage. This list can be used for people who users just need to keep in contact with, but don’t want to share their personal lives with.

Facebook has also updated lists so that while viewing a list, posting anything via the “publisher” by default will only be shared with that list. This alleviates the challenge of thinking about whose going to see what is posted when whats shared only applies to a certain group of friends.

A lot of these features are already present in Google +. It seems Facebook is updating itself because it saw where it was lacking.

Facebook Subscribers

It appears you can now have “subscribers” on Facebook much like followers on Twitter. Click on the “subscriptions” tab on your profile and click “Allow Subscriptions.” Posts with a privacy setting of public will be visible on your profile, and people can choose to subscribe to you (rather than adding you as a friend). You will be notified when a someone subscribes to you. You can always choose to block someone or turn off subscriptions.