Facebook tool helps users divide friends from acquaintances, clean out News Feed

Facebook introduced a new tool for users to add friends to an “acquaintances” list so these people appear less frequently in a user’s feed.

The social network is promoting the tool as a way to “see posts that matter to you,” but interestingly it does not suggest using the list to protect certain posts or information — another key benefit of maintaining lists. In any case, the tool addresses an issue many users have after years of using the service and accumulating friends they don’t know very well.

An algorithm recommends friends to add to the list based on frequency of interaction. We’ve found the suggestions to be quite accurate. Many of the users Facebook suggests as acquaintances are already those who appear sparingly in News Feed. Still, users can deselect particular friends if Facebook miscategorizes them. There’s also an option to remove users from friends completely by hovering over a person’s picture and clicking “unfriend.”

This type of tool is interesting coming from Facebook, which aims to connect people and often prompts people to add more friends rather than delete them. But it reflects the realities of the service and helps people organize their Facebook connections as they do with people offline. When users feel confident that they can control who sees their information, they are likely to share more on the site, which is why it’s surprising that Facebook didn’t call out how users can hide certain posts or photos from their new list of acquaintances.

Nonetheless, the tool serves the other practical need of relevance in News Feed. Helping users indicate which friends they want to see less from will enable Facebook to show more stories that users do care about.

Users can access the tool from the link here or by searching “acquaintances,” clicking on the list result and then selecting “see all suggestions” from the right-hand side of the page.

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