At Last: Facebook Adds ‘Acquaintances’ and Other New Features

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Whoa, boy: Facebook surprised us all this afternoon when they announced on their blog that they were adding a whole bunch of improvements to your friends lists: automatically generated “smart lists,” the ability to separate people into “close friends” and “acquaintances,” and a better suggestions mechanism with the ability to control who sees what. Let’s take a look.

Smart Lists

“Managing lists is boring. That’s why smart lists do the work for you,” they write. Smart lists are automatically generated from information you’ve filled in for work, school, family, or city. For example, say you work at a prestigious and awesome publication like TIME magazine. Other Facebook users you’re already friends with from TIME are pulled and assembled into a handy “work” list. From there, you’ll be able to manually sort and add/drop friends as you see fit.

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Close Friends and Acquaintances

“Close friends” will show up in your Facebook News Feed all the time, and  you’ll be privy to all their updates and notifications. There’s even an option to see just their content in your News Feed and no one else’s.

The new “Acquaintances” option is a breath of fresh air. There, you can place old friends, coworkers, or whoever else you’d like into a filter that makes their content show up less. Major news, like getting married or moving to a new city, will still pop up, you just won’t have to deal with boring, everyday minutia all the time.

Facebook notes that these lists aren’t automatically generated under smart lists—you’ll have to do some of the heavy lifting yourself. Still, it’s a major improvement over the old privacy options (though you’ll still have the ability to create restricted lists).

They explicitly state that you won’t have to use these new features unless you want to, though I can’t imagine why anyone with a day job wouldn’t. Again, major news here.

Better Suggestions

“When you add someone as a friend or confirm a friendship request, you’ll be able to add the friend to any of your existing lists,” Facebook writes on its blog. Like Google Plus, you’ll be able to add new friends or pending requests directly into whichever list you choose. Even better, is that when you’re updating or creating new content, you’ll be able to explicitly select who you want seeing each bit. Sound familiar? It should.

Like, like, like, and like. No word on when these new features will be available for everyone, but you can read more about them over at the official Facebook blog.

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Chris Gayomali is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @chrigz, on Facebook, or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.