Facebook wants people to share more information, because more sharing means more data to use in targeting ads, and more chances to serve up those ads. So today, it’s making sharing a little bit easier by allowing people to limit the information they want to share to specific groups of friends on the site.
In a beta test it is beginning to roll out, the company will let you use the “Publisher” sharing box at the top of users’ homepages and profiles to share status updates, links and whatnot with friends, friends of friends, custom lists of friends, or “everyone.” The everyone feature means you’re publicly sharing your information — sort of like Twitter — and, interestingly, people who are already doing this will be the first ones to see the new filters go live.
By making sharing more granular, Facebook makes it more practical for people to share sensitive information on the site. When friends start sharing more valuable information with you, you might start using Facebook more than other services (like email). Lifestreaming service FriendFeed has notably made it easy to share information with certain sorts of people as well via its central sharing box. Personally, I use that service’s bookmarklet to bookmark web pages and share them only with other staffers of VentureBeat. If Facebook were to come out with a slick bookmarklet that incorporates this feature, I could theoretically start using Facebook to do the same thing.