Facebook added a new function this week called Smart Lists. I’ve seen quite a few posts from people unclear on what exactly this means, how it works, why should I care, etc. etc. So here is a detailed post all about lists.
Many of you have seen (and even shared) that mis-informed post about Facebook hiding items from your feed and you not being able to see the posts from everyone on your friends list (the “Facebook’s done it AGAIN..” post). Without going into a ton of detail about why that post was inaccurate, the basis of it surrounds Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm.
What the heck is the EdgeRank algorithm you ask?
Essentially, Facebook is working really hard in the background determining what information it thinks you want to see. This is based on a few factors but one of the main ones is who you interact with the most on the platform. It assumes that if you interact with someone a lot, their information is likely important to you and you want to see it. So it gives posts from those users a higher priority, especially in your Top News view of your feed…but also in your Most Recent view. Because for some of us, it would take every second of every day to keep up with EVERYTHING being posted. So Facebook is helping us out by making some assumptions about what we want to see.
Now…this isn’t a perfect solution. Because we all have those people on our friends list who are Power Users…they comment, like, and post a LOT. And even though we talk to this person a lot on FB, they might not be someone we know all that well (or care to see what they had for lunch or when they brushed their teeth).
And we also have friends who are on FB maybe once in a blue moon. But that person could be your very best friend or a close family member. Someone you want to see what they have to share. Their infrequency of posting and sporadic interactions with you, by default, gives their posts a lower “weight”, however. So it could be very likely that you’ll see all the posts from Power User Acquaintance but BFF Blue Moon’s occasional post won’t make it on your feed.
To eliminate this very common issue, Facebook has unveiled Smart Lists.
I could make this a gigundo post but for the sake of being somewhat concise, I’m just going to mainly focus on the Close Friends / Acquaintance lists and briefly touch on other lists.
A lot of people have been posting questions about why does FB want them to classify a person as close or acquaintance? They don’t like classifying people that way and it feels very “high school”. It’s important to point out that you can use this tool or not…it’s your choice. Nothing will happen if you ignore Smart Lists and never categorize a friend.
Alright…so first off, the people you put on Close Friends or Acquaintance lists is kept TOTALLY private. People aren’t notified of whether you categorize them on these two lists. AND these lists are for your eyes only…your friends can’t go on your profile and view who you’ve placed where.
The reason for categorizing is to better help you manage the information Facebook gives you. Let’s go back to our example of Power User Acquaintance and BFF Blue Moon. You could place BFF Blue Moon on your Close Friends list so that no matter how infrequently they post, you’ll be notified and you’ll see it. Pretty cool, right?
Notice the yellow star that highlights the posts made by my Close Friends in my Notifications List. This is helpful for those of us who have large friend lists or really active connections. The Close Friend activity is easier to spot now.
You can also click on the list itself from your left navigation, and you’ll be brought to a custom news feed specific to that list.
From the feed view, you’ll notice a suggestion box from Facebook. These are suggestions made to you based on your interactions. These are not people asking to be placed on your list.
What is the difference with Close Friends and Acquaintances?
Basically, when you put someone on your Close Friends list, the info they post will be given top priority to show up in your feeds and notifications.
In the same way, people who you place on your Acquaintance list will be given a lesser priority. It doesn’t mean you won’t see their information. But you are letting Facebook know that seeing EVERY post by these people isn’t what you want hogging all of your feed. It should weight Close Friends at a higher priority regardless of how often you are interacting with people on that list.
What about the other Smart Lists?
You might notice that Facebook has given you some suggestions for other lists. These are based on other connections. For example, where you work or where you went to school. People on your friends list who have that connection in common with you will be either automatically on these lists or be suggestions for you to add.
IMPORTANT to note! These other lists are not held in the same level of confidentiality! When you add someone to this list, they will be notified you added them AND be given the suggestion they reciprocally add you. When you take this action, a pop-up window shows up telling you that this notification will take place.
It’s good to keep in mind, though, because down the road FB may eliminate the warning message and just notify people of your adding them to a list. So perhaps creating a list called “People Who Annoy the Heck Outta Me” isn’t such a great idea!
How do Smart Lists affect my privacy settings?
This is a great question. I heard from one friend that by default, everyone on her Close Friend list was given viewing privileges to all of her photo albums. To set privacy controls on photo albums, open the album and click Edit Album.
From there you’ll see a pop-up window. At the bottom you can choose which groups of people can see that particular album.
If you are like many of us, you might have people you are Facebook friends with that you might not want all of your posts to be seen by. For example, a boss or client, a super conservative family member, or someone you only casually know in a professional capacity. You could add them to your Restricted list.
This is a default list Facebook gives you. It has the same confidentiality as Close Friends and Acquaintances (i.e. people won’t know they’ve been put on this list). The settings for this list limits their view to only the posts you set as public.
This is a great way to maintain the friend connection (no need to do the awkward “unfriend”) but limit what information they can view.
To access the Restricted list, click on “More” next to Lists on the left nav bar. Restricted will be the last item on your list. Note – any prior friend lists you’ve created will show up here as well.
So there you go, what you need to know in a nutshell about the new Smart List feature! As more uses for this feature become clear, I will be sure to post additional articles about them.