These lists signify a move towards making Facebook a true network of networks. One list might be for your network of family members on Facebook, another might be for your network of college buddies, another might be for your coworkers.
Such partitions between your friends could eventually encourage specific types of communication on the site. Many have wondered if business people, for example, might use Facebook for work-related networking in place of LinkedIn or other existing business social networks.
Within the “Friends” tab in Facebook, you create a custom group (example: “College Buddies”) and then choose which friends to add to it. Then, you can message a group of friends instead of having to message a bunch of individuals one by one. You can also invite lists of friends to groups or events.
Of course, you already see news feeds of all of your friends’ activities on your Facebook homepage, and you can already edit which friends or which actions are featured most prominently within this feed. But if you have, say, a subset of coworkers whose activities you want to follow especially closely, you can create a list of these people then go to it to only track their “recent updates.”
However, you can’t assign varying privacy restrictions to each list of friends you create. For example, you can’t, en masse, stop your coworkers or your boss from seeing Facebook photos of you.
Right now, you can only restrict new friends you add to a “limited profile,” one by one. Users can specify what profile information shows up for restricted users, such as “Contact Info” or “Wall”, and specify which photo albums appear.
People who want to use Facebook for business purposes may not be satisfied with Facebook’s latest features. However, we expect and hope that Facebook will add more sophisticated privacy features soon.
Update: A company called WorkLight is separately working on a Facebook application called WorkBook to try to bring networks of coworkers within a business into Facebook.
Doug Sherrets contributed to this article.