The competitive edge that Google+ had over Facebook was circles. It is a form of micro-sharing. Basically you can share updates with a subset of your friends instead of all your friends. This kind of micro-sharing is what makes people feel that Google+ has better privacy control than Facebook. Well Facebook has decided to be competitive and has created smart lists.
Lists are not anything new in Facebook. In fact, they have been around for years, but only about 5% of Facebook users actually use lists. Most do not even know they exist and the ones that do often find it more cumbersome than helpful.
Facebook is now trying to take the cumber out of cumbersome. They are making automatic smart lists where it will group people for you based on your user information and usage habits. So if you have friends from your same college, they may get grouped into a “College” or “School” group. People you work with will be put in “Work”. You will be able to move people around in these groups to adjust them as you see fit. But Facebook is trying to make micro sharing more of a reality for its users.
Though grouping our friends for us might make it easier for us to manage our lists, it will not necessarily get people to start using the list function. Google+ was formed around the idea of circles and micro-sharing. Facebook was formed around the more general concept of social sharing. Not to mention that many of us get rather annoyed at how much Google tried to understand and anticipate our every move. So it might not be a good idea for Facebook to try to emulate that model. We already get annoyed at some of the friend suggestions, especially when not only are they people who are not friends but they are people we don’t want to see.
I am one of the 5%-ers that use lists, but will that number now increase? Do you plan to use lists now that they are automated?