New Facebook Friend Lists Cause Some Confusion

Facebook's new profiles include the ability to share friend lists, but how they function is not completely clear to users.

Friend Lists IconFacebook’s new profiles include the ability to share friend lists.

Up until now, the contact list was for one’s own private use, effectively a shortcut for things like group invitations and the creation of different tiers of access to your profile or content.

These capabilities are still around, and you can access them by clicking “account” in the upper right-hand corner of your screen and then clicking “edit friends.”

Now you have an additional ways to access the friend list editing too: In the middle of the left-hand column your profile page, you’ll see the label “friend” and also labels for any contact lists you’ve already made. Bring your mouse near any of these labels and a pen icon appears. Click on it to go to the relationships tab in the new profile-editing page. You can get to this same screen by clicking on the pen icon to edit other parts of your profile, and then click the word “relationships” in the left-hand column.

Any friend lists you might already have default to private, meaning they don’t go public unless you specifically make them that way. You can select to make one of them public, or create a new list. I did the latter to make the list called “featured friends” just before taking the screenshot for yesterday’s post about the new profile features.

I noticed a nifty new feature after I chose to make a list public, and again when I created a new list: the tool suggested friends to add to existing lists.

I think Facebook could have explained this better. Our delayed understanding of this feature seems to be the consequence of the site’s overreliance on imagery to demonstrate the new profiles. We are still learning how to use friend lists and would love to hear your experiences with it.

When I added a friend to a list, that individual got a notification about it, but couldn’t see any of the people on the list, even though I designated that list as public. When that same friend added me to a list, I never got a notification about it. Neither of us discovered whether we could subscribe to updates related to these respective friend lists.

Another blogger has pointed out that Facebook’s new list sharing doesn’t have the same kind of benefits as those found on Twitter.But I don’t think they’re needed: Many of us follow tweets from people we don’t know personally, whereas we have more direct connections with people we’re Faceboooking.

However, it’s possible that there are more similar benefits between list sharing on Twitter and Facebook that I’ve yet to discover as I continue to get up to speed with the feature.

Readers, what do you think of the friend list sharing feature so far?