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Facebook Takes Lesson from Google+, Revamps Friends Lists

Facebook's new tool makes it easier to group friends into categories

Facebook began rolling out smart friend lists to users, in what is seen as a response to Google+ circles. The new tool makes it easier for you to group Facebook friends into categories such as close friends, acquaintances or work colleagues, and it should be live for most users by the end of the week, Facebook said in a blog post.

Some of the new smart lists on Facebook will be automatically created, including work, school, family and city (based on your location). You will be able to add or remove friends from these lists manually, as well as create your own lists, such as close friends and acquaintances. As with Google+, each list will have its own news feed, too.

With the close friends list you will see everything a person posts in the News Feed, while the acquaintances list will only show important postings, like relationship statuses or location changes. People you add to the restricted list will only see your public posts (another new feature introduced recently).

Google+ is the hottest contender for Facebook’s social networking crown. It has garnered more than 25 million users since it was launched as a limited beta in June. Among other features it received praise for, Google+ uses circles to easily organize your friends, so you could still have people following you (Twitter-style) and share things with friends or selected groups (Facebook-style).

However, Facebook’s smart friend lists are not a direct rip-off Google+. Facebook’s Blake Ross, a product director, explained in a blog post that the smart friend lists are just improvements of the lists feature, which has existed for several years, but was hard to find (deep in the old confusing privacy settings) and clumsy and time-consuming to organize.

By automating most of the smart lists, Facebook has one-upped Google+, as you don’t have to add someone to a circle/list every time you have a new friend/follower. Facebook’s lists will also feature suggestions, which should make it easier to add the right friends without too much effort.

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