Larry BraunerFacebook friend lists may one day become much more useful than they are at present if the top online social networking site ever finds the wherewithal to implement Facebook lists intelligently and with flexibility in mind.

Admittedly, Facebook has some of the friend list details right. For example, you can create custom friend lists that make sense to you and your personal or business interests. You can (finally!) assign friends to friend lists without leaving their profile pages. You can also (once again!) select which lists of friends will see any particular Facebook update.

TOO Much Help from Facebook

FacebookRecently, Facebook created so-called “smart” lists in order to help us with categorizing our Facebook friends. Smart lists are an excellent idea. Unfortunately, however, Facebook went too far with smart lists and let them overshadow our hand crafted lists.

Try to use Facebook friend lists to selectively invite people to Facebook events or to “like” Facebook pages. The only lists consistently available for such invitations are Facebook smart lists, even if those “smart” friend lists happen to be totally empty lists. That’s especially dumb. Don’t you agree?

SMARTer Facebook Friend List Selection

For invitations, Facebook could provide a similar friend list selection mechanism to the one the online social network employs for directing profile updates. Then, optional use of Facebook smart lists would be - uh smart.

Facebook expects users to invite selectively and responsibly. Why shouldn’t Facebook help us by correcting their smart friend list oversight?

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13 Responses to “Why Facebook Smart Lists are Actually Dumb”

  1. Tim McDonald on November 6th, 2011 11:06 pm

    Amen! As a person who creates 2-3 event invites /month, the smart list only invite is a royal pain. Before anyone thinks I’m one of those people that invites every single one of my friends, I take the time to personally select every person. With over 2000 friends the smart list only selection makes it a very tedious process.

  2. Debby Bruck on November 6th, 2011 11:21 pm

    Hi Larry ~ I agree with you that the more FaceBook fiddles with the settings, the more complicated it gets to keep track and keep up with your FaceBook friends, management and details.

    I’m wondering if people are using FaceBook less or more these days? Blessings, Debby

  3. Chuck Bartok on November 6th, 2011 11:34 pm

    I do not understand how the “smart List” come up? and where they are?
    Thanks for your help, Larry

  4. Kelli Brown on November 8th, 2011 4:35 am

    An excellent point, and I think Debby raises a good question as well. While I think users that are already familiar with Facebook’s antics will continue to be heavy users of the site, it would seem that raising the bar for getting started will dissuade new users from joining. The mind boggles at how much more complicated it has gotten to begin using Facebook, even compared to 18 months ago. Then again, I guess that’s a luxury you have when you have more users than most of us can imagine.

  5. Mae Loraine Jacobs on November 8th, 2011 6:34 pm

    I still believe in creating Facebook pages instead of relying on your own personal profile to promote whatever it is you’re trying to, such as a business, a new product, or even idea. Facebook Fan Pages are much easier to control. Moreover, there’s already the implied expectation from “friends” that they’re pages for promotions. They don’t end up telling you you’re spamming or harassing them.

  6. Facebook Business Marketing and Google Plus Business Page Links, 11-11-11 on November 11th, 2011 10:05 am

    […] Why Facebook Smart Lists Are Actually Dumb, Online Social Networking “Try to use Facebook friend lists to selectively invite people to Facebook events or to “like” Facebook pages. The only lists available for such invitations are Facebook smart lists, even if those “smart” friend lists happen to be totally empty lists. That’s especially dumb.” […]

  7. James Brent on November 13th, 2011 1:57 pm

    Hi Larry,

    Couldn’t agree more. I am also starting to dislike more and more that Facebook seems to be making so many friends decisions for us, it’s although they know who our friends are more than we do! To be honest, I like to have control over who my friends are and how close they are. Your SMARTer idea seems like a good one, let’s hope we see something similar soon.



  8. Karen on November 16th, 2011 5:02 am

    Agree with James Brent. We should have control over our friends.

  9. Phil on November 18th, 2011 4:15 pm

    FINALLY! Someone who agrees with me. Empty lists help nobody. I just don’t get it - why Facebook rolled this out is an utter mystery to me. Great post.

  10. Lyudmila Osipova on December 10th, 2011 1:52 pm

    Just want to say thank you so much. I am learning how to build a website, does not know ANYTHING . Was ready to give up. You were able to explain that well –I actually understand, and it’s free.

    My best wishes,


  11. Ross on December 20th, 2011 12:22 am

    Conducting business on Facebook is definitely a trend that is on the rise; however I think they need to work on balancing new technology with usability. It’s great to have the latest updates but if they aren’t functional to users then what good are they?

  12. Facebook Smart Lists Work Around | Online Social Networking on December 31st, 2011 11:20 pm

    […] Why Facebook Smart Lists are Actually Dumb […]

  13. fred on March 20th, 2012 1:23 pm

    I have never even used any friend lists. I don’t have 4000 friends, so I can keep track of them myself, thank you very much.

    But Facebook just randomly created these “Smart” lists, without any option to get rid of them. At least, I can’t find a way to delete them.

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