Facebook has rolled out dozens of new features in the last few weeks, many of which I have declared creepy and an invasion of privacy. Among these new changes are actually a few features that I think could make our use of Facebook more enjoyable and our lives easier. Here are three new Facebook features that I actually like:
Facebook has become the easiest way to not only remember your friends’ birthdays, but wish your friends a happy birthday without needing to go out of your way and send a card or even a text message. Facebook friends’ birthdays are displayed in the top right corner of your Facebook home page, and previously clicking on a friend’s name who is having a birthday the same day would direct you to their wall to post your birthday greetings. Now, Facebook has enabled you to say happy birthday inline on your Facebook home page; that is, without having to leave the home page on Facebook, you can wish your friends happy birthday. This will undoubtedly be useful for Facebook users who find themselves with several friends celebrating birthdays on the same day.
I have been a fan of Facebook lists since they came into existence. Facebook lists have been an ideal way for me to filter out posts and comments from people I don’t care about and hone in on specific classmates from college or
stalk catch up with my “friends” from high school. SmartLists have taken much of the work out of making lists, as Facebook now automatically generates lists of close friends, friends on Facebook who live nearby, and all of your coworkers. Facebook also made it easy to merge lists, such as the one I manually made of friends in the Las Vegas area with the Las Vegas SmartList of all my Facebook friends in the area that was generated as soon as I changed my location on my Facebook profile. Not only do I not have to update this list manually anymore, but it will be automatically updated once I add new friends from the Las Vegas area on Facebook or if any of my friends relocate, too.
I have met dozens of other journalists, podcasters, and influential social media and tech thought leaders over the last few years. However, not all of these individuals know me well enough to add me as a friend to their personal and private profile pages on Facebook. I have always disliked the idea of creating a pretentious “fan page” for the readers of this blog (and my others) to stay in touch with, and so opted to add every single person as a friend on Facebook and limit the types of updates I post as a result. Subscriptions now make it easy to read updates from almost anyone else on Facebook using a friend/follower model similar to Twitter. I can now post both public and more private updates limited to specific groups of friends. This feature also makes it easy to reduce the amount of incoming posts on my Facebook homepage, as I can restrict the amount of updates I see from friends, to whom I am automatically subscribed. While other changes by Facebook seem to limit privacy, this feature allows users to fine tune the privacy of the content posted.
What are your thoughts of Facebook’s new features? Are there any you love or hate? Let us know in the comments.