Facebook has changed the interface for its Find Friends Browser, switching to checkboxes for filtering, adding infinite scroll, and making the Add as Friend buttons constantly visible. The friend suggestion tool has been refocused to help you find other users that share profile traits with your friends, not just you. For instance you’ll see filters for hometowns or employers you’ve never listed, but which many friends have. This update makes it easier to find someone you’ve met through your friends, such as when visiting their hometown or company headquarters, even if you don’t know their name.
The Find Friends Browser was introduced earlier this month, adding the filters from user search to a buildout of the People You May Know sidebar module. The feature defaulted to display other users that shared a profile trait with a user in one of a few categories, such as high school or college. This interface was better suited to finding people you had met numerous times within that shared context, but not added as friends. The change favors users who have been on Facebook for awhile and probably have more friends still left to be found in the networks of friends than their own.
When users click the “Find your Friends” link within the Stay Connected panel of the home page’s right sidebar, they’re brought to a screen where they can import their contacts from other services (though not Gmail), or view People You May Know friend suggestions. If users click the “See All” friend suggestions link, or visit http://www.facebook.com/find-friends/browser, they’ll be brought to the new Find Friends Browser.
Now, users first see suggestions of users with a variety of shared networks and connections with them and their friends. Users can simultaneously filter this pool of suggestions through pre-made filters of popular entries in different categories including high school, college, employer, hometown, current city, or mutual friend. For instance, they might see filters for their own current city, one they previously listed as their current city, and a current city shared by many of their friends. Users can also use a typeahead to add custom filters. Unlike the old drop-down menu, category-separated interface, the checkbox filters can be combined to show you very specific suggestions, such as people who went to your high school and work at Google with some of your friends.
If there are enough suggestions for the selected filters, user can use the same infinite scroll employed in Photos and the news feed to load more suggestions. Lastly, buttons to add the displayed users as friends are always visible, instead of only when a user is moused over.
Facebook has a high market penetration in some areas of the world, which can make it difficult to find people you’ve met but only know a little bit about. Now its easier to find people without knowing their name, as long as you can filter by at least two categories, such as people who currently live in San Francisco, and who at some point worked for Salesforce.com. While some may complain that the new Find Friends Browser makes it easier for people to track you down without your consent, most will benefit from being able to add people as friends who they only met briefly.
[Thanks to Eti Suruzon for the tip.]
Update: The new Find Friends Browser interface does not allow users to filter by a specific class year of high schools or colleges. This prevents users from seeing only those that graduated their year — a popular method of finding potential friends. This functionality was present in the old Find Friends Browser interface. Users can still use class year filters when performing a search for people within Facebook. Thanks to our reader Wayne for spotting this.