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IDEA #73 – Friends Categorized as API to other Facebook Apps

Another Facebook application idea comin’ at ya!…

Robert Scoble has vocalized how he doesn’t like the restriction Facebook puts on your number of friends (5,000) and that he wants as many people to be his friend as they want.

But the problem Robert (and others with tons of friends — even if it’s 100) is that you don’t really care about the actions of all those people — and in FB apps, you really want to see the actions of certain top friends of yours. For example, take the photos app — I have “friends” in FB that are really business colleagues — I don’t care about the latest photo albums they posted; I care about my close friends and family. But I see all my FB friends instead.

We really all have various classifications of “friends” — professional colleagues, best friends, family members, etc.

I think there’s a need to classify these friends into groups — likely invisible to all your “friends” — but so that you can get the updates in FB applications that you really care about.

I’m proposing that someone develops a Facebook Application that other Facebook Applications can leverage. It’ll allow a user to group their friends — and then other Facebook Applications can leverage how your preferences on your friends, and display the most relevant info to you first (such as in photos, it’ll just display your best friends and family photo album additions/changes — rather than mixing all of your friends/family/colleagues together).

Facebook’s Terms of Service don’t want you to rebuild/save the way friendships are — because their biggest value is their social network, so you’d have to put some thought into whether this violates that. I don’t believe it does, because you don’t care about names, email addresses, etc — just a UID and their friends’ UIDs categorized. Then another Facebook App could ask the user what updates/notifications they’d like to see — or who the main page of that Facebook App should display (all your friends? just ‘family’? just ‘best friends’? just ‘Purdue buds’? …any groups the user wants to create).

In fact, this app could allow you to add more than 5,000 friends — users could click a profile action link under the user’s profile to ‘add Steve Poland’ as a friend. The user would have this API app installed — could be called their “Friend Manager” or something. And on the user’s profile page could be a profile box that displays all their friends — could also allow you to display your top friends (“top 8”, or “top 16” or whatever) and could even allow the user to show how they’ve categorized their friends (if they wanted to do so).

  • James D Kirk

    Interesting couple of ideas I’m going to take from this post and add to my model for the app we chatted about. Thanks!

  • Kirk

    I agree with your idea that the friendship term has several meanings when it comes to social networks. that’s why I use 8hands, the profile aggregator. It shows my top 8 friends from all networks,based on amount of communication, so by using it, I can keep tabs on my favorite and closest friends.

  • KwangErn

    Definitely a good idea to take on.

    It can even be extended to work similarly to Google Reader Notifier.

    Awesome stuff.

  • Alexander van Elsas

    @Steve: I like your thoughts on this subject. I think there are many ways to use tools like Facebook. Some might use it to keep track and communicate with their best friends, while others might use it allmost like a marketing tool keeping track of as many as possible. Most social networking tools tend to aim to support keeping track of large amounts of people, instead of your best friends. A good example for this is the necessity of asking permission to add a good friend (physical or on-line) to your list of friends in Facebook or allomst any other social network tool. I wrote something about that on my (new) weblog
    @Kirk: haven’t tried out 8hands yet, but will take a peak. Is it difficult to set it up?