Edo the Reliable

Facebook Extends Family

In Social Networks on December 9, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Facebook Friends’ Lists – a topic discussed here since 6 months – feature prominently in the Facebook Profile page redesign released December 5, 2010.

Friends Lists now enjoy better visibility. Their new home is a nice plot of real estate in the left column of your profile. By default, it shows all your friends; but it can have subsections, each displaying faces of members who are on one of your lists. This is a bit like extending the “Friends Who Liked This Website” feature to Facebook’s own Profile pages.

Making my Friends Lists visible to friends is a great way to popularize the concept, generate interest and motivate them to explore and create their own Friends’ Lists. Some users, familiar with the “Top 8” list that was a driving engine for MySpace, have immediately set up their “Top FB 8” list.

All My Relations

To make your lists visible, go to the “Relationships” tab. You’ll find a new, better UI for editing Friends Lists.

Interestingly, Friends Lists are preceded on the relationships tab by a “Family” drop-down, offering 16 types of blood relationships. 16 types is a significant expansion of the 3 types originally offered by Facebook (parents, siblings, and children). However, some English words describing family relations are still missing, most notably grand-niece (sorry, N.!). In-laws also come to mind.

Because a friend of mine owns a time machine, I received an alert about the Dec 5 Facebook release, and on Dec. 3 I was able to post this prophetic Tweet:

Merging ancestry tree websites like Geni with Facebook would be considered normal in most world cultures“.

This could be Geni.com or Ancestry.com window of opportunity to seize the moment with a brilliant social strategy offering unique value to Facebook. While upgrading their users’ relaciones de sangre data, based on their users’ Facebook profiles, these services can also support Facebook’s efforts in collecting more blood relations data. Facebook needs family data now like nobody ever did. Like I said before, many of the use cases from hell that haunt Facebook have to do with the confusion between family and friends.

Integrating Groups and Friends Lists

The Relationships tab offers  users to “Create new list · Add an existing list or group“, leading to a pop-up where Lists and Groups are tabs in the same window. This is an acknowledgement that Friends Lists and (the new) Groups share functionality. It’s almost as if Friends Lists are a special case of a Group (see my Oct. 2010 product feature table here). The next logical step could be to enable “Share” of news feed items to Groups, not just to Friends Lists.

It’s interesting to note that while blood relations automatically populate a “Family” list on your profile, they are not available as status distribution limiters (the groups you create are). This, unfortunately, leaves unaddressed the user scenario from hell reported by Dana Boyd and quoted in my May post The Friend of My Friend Was My Mother.

  1. […] blog post and a tweet by Ido Amin caught my attention.Merging ancestry tree websites like Geni with Facebook […]

  2. Gil asks: “Does a Facebook family mean the same thing as Geni family?” well, in terms of what defines a connection in these two systems, this is exactly the same kind of data. “Do you (users – e.e.) store and use the same types of information on both services?” – obviously not right now. “Do you want to share that information across sites? Will Facebook track record with privacy be consistent with that of Geni?” – that is a job for a product manager, or in other words: how do you present your users with a deal that gives them value in return for data. Because “privacy” can mean “let it stay within the family”, you need to define the family; and conceivably, if you’re Ancestry or Geni, your users would thank you for allowing them to share that data with Facebook because it enhances their privacy *there*. This will actually make Facebook recapture the position of the good guy. You see, for geeks like you or me, privacy might mean not having “big brother”. But for most users, it’s very different: privacy means keeping our children or parents separate from what we say and do “in private”.

  3. […] family relations. When listing relations first became possible in the Dec 5, 2010 release  (see post), it was limited to 16 blood relations. It now lists 32 relation types, or 33 if you count the […]

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