When Google+ launched in late June, it provided users with segmentation options that empowered them to selectively share information with friends and acquaintances. The segmentation options, which Google+ appropriately named “Circles,” allowed people to easily categorize relationships into Circles such as friends, family, or acquaintances. Finally, it was possible to share something with a close friend or family member and not broadcast that message to the other 500+ “friends” in your social network. The ability to create Circles and segment friends resulted in tens of millions of users, a feat that demanded Facebook’s attention.
Facebook recently began rolling out its latest update, which is most likely a response to the success experienced by Google+. The new Facebook update will vastly improve the quality of the Facebook user experience by automatically segmenting friends into one of the following categories (Smart Lists):
- Friends you attended school with
- Friends who live <50 miles from you
- Friends you work with
In addition to the automatic segmentation (Smart Lists), Facebook is promoting a little-known feature that enables users to manually organize friends into a Friend List. This feature, which has been on Facebook for quite some time, allows Facebook users to manually segment friends in the following manner:
- Restricted – People who you do not want to share information with
- Acquaintances – People you do not want featured prominently in your News Feed
- Close Friends – People you want to hear from often
The combination of Smart Lists, Friend Lists, and updated privacy settings will allow Facebook users to selectively and easily share information with their friends. Once a Facebook user’s friends have been segmented into a Smart List or Friend List, the user can share content with a specified list and filter the news feed by list. The increased competition between Facebook and Google+ should drive both services to become even better in the near future.