Facebook is experimenting with a new way to filter the Newsfeed: by media type (like photos, links or games), page updates only or by friend list. Unearthed by Josh Constine at watchdog blog Inside Facebook, these new options look great.
Constine argues the new options and their prominent placement "can make consuming the feed less exhausting, and lead to greater engagement, more Likes and Comments, and more time spent on Facebook." I agree. These new options are a form of allowing the all-important Newsfeed to be filtered by context, lending it a greater feeling of control and cohesiveness. The current design prompts users to view updates in time-based order only, but sometimes you want to view a certain type of update or updates from certain groups of your social contacts. Screenshot below.
The Facebook Newsfeed is like the RSS reader that worked - it caught on with hundreds of millions of people. Assuming that many ReadWriteWeb readers are familiar with RSS readers like Google Reader, permit me this analogy.
Facebook users always had the option to view updates just from one group of friends at a time, but a mere 5% of users ever created Friends Lists the company says and the interface has never emphasized this feature.
It would be all the more helpful if Facebook offered automatic recommendations for Friends Lists, something that seems more likely now that family members, for example, are automatically listed in the sidebar of the new Facebook profiles.
Sometimes you want to see the news from the organizations whose pages you've Liked. Sometimes you just want family updates. Just like the newspapers of old, the Facebook Newsfeed needs easy sections, if you want them. That's what these new options would provide.
Hopefully this new interface will be extended to all users shortly. Facebook regularly experiments with things like this and there's not guarantee it will ever go live site-wide.