Every time I scroll through my list of ‘Friends’ on Facebook, I inevitably come to the same (somewhat depressing) conclusion: I have absolutely no idea who many of these people are. This is mostly my fault – my standards have always been pretty low when it comes to accepting inbound requests, and I never kept up with assigning them to appropriate Friends Lists. But there’s also the fact that Facebook doesn’t do much to automatically differentiate between friends and acquaintances (while it does filter your News Feed based on who it thinks you’re interested in, there isn’t a way to automatically generate a list of “good friends” versus everyone else).
Meezoog, an Israeli startup backed by veteran VC Yossi Vardi, is looking to help differentiate between acquaintances and close friends. Today the company has launched its own social network at Meezoog.com that attempts to determine how strong the connections are between users by analyzing their relationships on other sites across the web (it also asks you to manually input your relationship with each friend, but this isn’t required). The site presents a number of “paths” connecting you with each friend in a manner similar to Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, that helps users determine the degree of “social trust” they have with each user. At this point it’s too early to tell how well the system works, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Besides its social network, Meezoog also plans to offer Facebook and OpenSocial applications that allow users to estimate the nature of their connections with their friends, even if they aren’t on Meezoog’s network. This cross-network analysis is probably the company’s best shot at success – while Meezoog may be able to establish its standalone social network in some regional areas, it will have a very hard time directly competing with established networks like Facebook and MySpace.
Other companies have tried to do similar social connection strength mapping, including Linking Universe.