An interesting thing is happening online, we’re moving towards personalized social networks. The newest feature among the top social networks is the ability to organize your friends, family and work colleagues into separate, meaningful communities. When you think about it, being able to send selective content to a pre-defined group of contacts is a great way to solve the online privacy issues we’ve been facing for so long.
Historically, Twitter and Facebook have allowed members to group friends and followers into lists for the sole purpose of tracking updates. For example, you can set up a list of business colleagues and track their updates. But what if you wanted to send a customized message only to that list of people? Not possible. Er, ok, it was possible on Facebook but not easy. It wasn’t until earlier this year that people really got excited about customized contact lists when Google introduced Circles as part of the Google+ platform. Google+ members are able to set up personalized lists or “circles” of their contacts based on relationship and send customized status updates and/or messages to them. Talk about a major step forward in selective content distribution.
This week, Facebook upgraded its “Lists” feature to allow members to organize friends and send specific message to them. To help familiarize members with the concept, Facebook has created three generic “Smart” lists for every profile: 1) close friends, 2) acquaintances, and 3) restricted. The idea is to segment out your good friends from people you work with or may not know intimately. Of course you also create your own lists and call them whatever you like. A common complaint I’ve heard from dozens of colleagues over the last few years has been, “How do I balance my personal life with my professional life on Facebook?” With Facebook Lists, you can be selective with the content you distribute and control who actually sees it. Problem solved. Privacy advocates should be jumping for joy.