Facebook Updating Friends Area To Simplify Friend Filtering

picture-118In a few hours, Facebook will roll out changes to one of its main areas, “Friends,” designed to make it easier and more obvious as to how to add friends, make Friend Lists and edit those lists. This is important as filtering is a key part of the newly redesigned homepage, and up until now it’s been a bit confusing for some users as to how to create these lists.

The specific changes to the area involve moving “Create New List,” “Edit List,” and “Delete List” buttons to the top of the area above your list of friends. Clicking on the Create New List button will open an overlay that allows you to click on friends’ faces to add them to this new list. You can also type in their name and have them show up. Editing an existing friend list is just as easy.

But something else really interesting that Facebook is doing is that it is now auto-populating some lists for you, if you don’t have any. It’s doing this by using the details you entered when you confirmed a friendship with someone — the “How do you know this person?” question. This auto-generation of lists will no doubt spur more usage of them and will hopefully help less savvy users figure out how to use them to make the site more manageable.

When you visit this new Friends area, you’ll also see at the very top of the page a big box to help you find friends that you email most often. Below this, is the Suggestions area which lists several people Facebook thinks you may be friends with based on your existing connections. You can also find people based on what school you went to and also based on their IM name on various services.

Friend lists have existed in one form or another on Facebook since 2007. Their most obvious usage before the redesign was to give different friends different privacy settings, to modify what they could or could not see. But as I mentioned, these lists are now just as important for your own experience on Facebook, to filter the social stream. All of your Friend Lists will now show up on the left hand sidebar of the main page. You can easily rearrange these lists by dragging them into new positions. The top one will be your default view of the Facebook News Feed.

Facebook is quick to note that your friends will not be able to see what lists you’ve put them in. So when you add Jim to your “Dumbass” list, you’ll be fine unless he’s looking over your shoulder when you’re signed into your own account.

Check out the screenshots and a video below.