Google Plus has gotten a lot of attention lately for having an intuitive way to manage groups of friends – they call them “Circles”. Now you can bring the simplicity of Google+ Circles to Facebook, using the Better Facebook browser extension!
After installing the extension from http://BetterFacebook.net into your favorite browser, you will see an additional two buttons when you begin posting a status, picture, etc.
Facebook already has Circle-like functionality called Friends Lists, but in order to post to only certain groups of friends and not others, you need to click on the padlock icon and go through several clicks and a dialog just to select who will see your post. The purpose of the “Circles” UI is to make that much easier!
Clicking on the Post Privacy button gives you dropdown like this:
Here you will see your existing Friends Lists, but in a better interface, and re-branded to be “Circles” which are easier to understand and visualize. From here you can select the visibility of the post you are about to make by selecting the general audience from one of the green buttons, and if you want to get more specific, certain groups from the list below.
The blue Circles on the left are the lists that will see the post, if the type is Custom. Only people in these Circles will see the post. To everyone else, it will be as if the post doesn’t exist. The Circles on the right explicitly exclude people from seeing the post. If you don’t select any lists from the left, then the default is “All Friends”, but then you can exclude just some friends by selecting their Circle on the right. If a friend exists in a Circle on the left and the right, the right will take precedence and the user will not see the post.
The “Edit” column gives you a quick view into how many friends you have in each list now, and clicking it launches a Facebook page to edit the list (or delete it).
But what if you have no lists (aka “Circles”) setup already? Don’t worry! That’s what the Edit Friend Circles button is for.
It launches a web site built by Facebook engineers, but not officially a Facebook product. It’s called CircleHack.com and it gives you a visual way to drag users into Circles to create them. This is very much like the Google Plus Circles interface, and shows the actual similarities between the two systems. Since this is a real Facebook App, you’ll need to login to Facebook and grant it permissions to access your friend lists, etc.
If you don’t like CircleHack.com, or if it doesn’t work for you, you can instead make the Edit Friend Circles button point to Facebook’s own built-in screen to manage Friend Lists. To do this, go into Options->Posts and click the second option as shown:
After you make a post that has been restricted to being visible by a certain Friend Circle, you can always check to see that it has been limited by hovering over the padlock icon on the post itself:
This will display the Circles that the post is visible to, and give you confirmation that it is indeed limited.
In conclusion, by bringing Circles to Facebook, Better Facebook has leveled the playing field again, and made the Facebook Friend List feature much easier to use. Now you can quickly and easily send posts to specific people who might be interested – without bothering everyone in your friends list!
So, do you use Circles in Facebook? How do you use them? Give feedback and discuss on the Better Facebook Page wall!