Facebook has had lists long before Twitter – I remember writing about them in I’m on Facebook–Now What??? almost 3 years ago. Lists are a powerful, but less-used (according to Mark Zuckerberg) feature of Facebook that enable anyone on Facebook to customize their status updates and Privacy settings so that only select groups of friends can see them. Today that changed though, and in an awesome way – Facebook is now allowing, with the launch of their new user profiles, the ability to feature specific friend lists on your Facebook Profile.
The new feature, part of the just launched Facebook Profile redesign (which Mark Zuckerberg talks about on 60 Minutes tonight), allows users to, right below their family, create or associate existing lists that they can share on their Facebook Profile. Then, in their privacy settings, they can set who gets to see those lists (Everyone, Friends, Friends of Friends, or even Custom Lists). The list then appears in their list of friends when you click on the “Friends” link on the user’s profile.
The problem with Facebook lists has always been that they are only visible to the individual who created them. In contrast, Twitter has, from the beginning (yet years after Facebook created lists), allowed users to feature the lists they’ve created to appear prominently on their Twitter profile. Today Facebook has taken their offering one step closer to Twitter’s, but in typical fashion they are offering privacy controls that go alongside it.
Of course, unlike Twitter’s, you cannot subscribe to another person’s friend list (this may never be possible because of the 2-way relationship of Facebook friends, although it could happen if they apply lists to Pages). However, this step is definitely interesting, as you can see some of the favorite people individuals like myself have friended, hopefully so you can discover people you know as well that may be of interest. I created a “Cool Techies” list and displayed it on my own profile for this reason (although it’s still not complete).
With every move, whether the users like it or not, Facebook continues to improve its network as it grows. While some may invent new technology, Facebook continues to reinvent it, adding privacy controls, and new ways of communication that were never before possible. Shared lists are only one new element of the new user profiles – what else can you find?
Here are some screenshots of the new list sharing – of course, you can always friend me on Facebook to see this in person: