The ability to segment Facebook friends is “in the works”

Apparently, there will soon be an upgrade to Facebook that will address one of its more obvious and serious flaws — the whole “tone deafness” to any forms of social networks that seem grown-up. According to the “In the Works” section of “What’s New” on Facebook, “(FB will soon) let you organize that long list of friends into groups so you can decide more specifically who sees what.” I interpret that to mean that Facebook has finally recognized that the “friends” you went to elementary school with and the “friends” you work with may, actually, not have anything to do with one-another. (However, I’m sure they’ll be promoting this feature as one that will allow you to keep the list of girls you dated in high school from seeing the girls you date in college.)

I can think of many other grown-up fixes they need: the “how you met” options are among the most obvious. The long-term killer item, however, is the ability to export identity information and networks. When Facebook becomes an open platform on which I can manage my identity and social networks everywhere, it becomes one of the few technologies I’d consider vital — up there with e-mail, telephones and the clapper.

(via: Nick O’Neill)

Later: The “via” source I credited, Nick O’Neill, was over-the-top in calling this feature a “Linked-in” killer. Frankly, there are features Facebook already has that will kill Linked-in if that company doesn’t respond — but, no doubt, they will respond. It is my belief that Linked-in, Google, Yahoo!, Ning, People Aggregator, et al, can all kill Facebook if they agree on a set of open standards for social networking and identity management. However, it is also my belief that Facebook can choose to “lead” rather than fight, as well. I’m a fan of Facebook, as I’m a fan of, say, Apple. However, Facebook should not pursue the “closed” model of Apple or they will end up with a small market share of cultists who, in 20 years, will still proclaim their (our) superiority over the 98% of the world who hasn’t see the light.

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