With the launch of Google+ people, especially the Tech heads among us, started speculating if the network has any potential to kick Facebook of its social throne. Trying to identify the network’s Unique Selling Points (USP’s) I hear a lot of people mentioning Google+ Circles, specifically the ability to share different content with different groups.
First off, let me correct that thought by telling you Facebook has had ‘circles’ for a really long time. Facebook supports the ability to create different friend lists, set different privacy options per list and share different kind of content to different kind of lists.
So where did Facebook mess up? Apparently little people are aware such options even existed. Answering this question brings us directly to one of the most valuable USP’s Google+ offers: Intuitiveness. Google’s layout, interface and functionality are self-explanatory; making it easy to use for any type of user. I’m aware this is partially because they’ve adopted several elements from Facebook, but the amazing minimalistic and functional design makes Facebook look like a Win95 product.
I’m not going to lie to you, I definitely see Google+’s potential and I think if Google plays its cards the right way (and it will), it will become a worthy Facebook competitor. But for now the majority of people is sticking with Facebook and I’ll try to make their lives easier by explaining how they can have their own circles on this network.
Managing Friend List
Let’s say you would like to keep you work and private life separate but wouldn’t want to refuse any friend requests from your colleagues. To do this we start by making a separate ‘work’ list to add your colleagues. In the Facebook navigation panel, got to friends and click on the top right option to ‘manage friend list’ and create a new list called ‘Work’.
As you can see the list appears in the right pane and you can start adding work-related contacts by entering their name or selecting the ‘add multiple’ option. Each time you accept a new friend request you are also offered to add them to a specific list, making the list easier to manage.
Sharing Specific Content
In this example we would like to share an update with our friends, but we find it a bit too inappropriate to share it with your work or family connections. By entering the update (the same works for sharing a photo, video, link or question) and selecting the little lock-icon on the right, we can select who we would want to share this with.
For this example we click on custom, making a little pop-up with custom privacy settings show. In this example I’d like to share it with my Facebook friends but would like to hide it from any relatives or coworkers. To do so I select the ‘Friends Only’ option and enter the name of the lists I would like to hide it from in the text bar below. You can even select the ‘make this my default setting’ so it remembers your choice for the next status update.
Hiding Photo Albums and Personal Information
The Facebook privacy center is quite advanced, making it harder for less-frequent internet users to change the settings appropriately. It is possible to set the visibility of every different Facebook element of photo album by using your friend lists. To do so, we go to ‘account’ and select ‘privacy settings’. Facebook recommends default privacy settings, but in this case we would like to customize them ourselves. By clicking on ‘Custom’ and select ‘customizing settings’ we can set the privacy for each single element the same way we did before when clicking the lock-icon to customize the privacy of a status update.
Just like on Google+ it is possible to customize the privacy of your photo-albums. Select ‘edit privacy settings for existing photo albums and videos’ on the current page to see the settings of each album you’ve created.
Changing the settings for each album works the same as changing the privacy settings for status updates or personal information. Like I’ve said before, it’s less intuitive then Google+, but hopefully it improves your Facebook experience for the time being.