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Facebook changes way to sort friends

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2010. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

October 6, 2010 7:33:44 PM PDT
Is it possible to have too many friends who know too much about you? If you use Facebook, the answer is likely yes. The company has announced some major changes that will impact the more than 500 million people who use the popular social networking site.

In Palo Alto Wednesday, the buzz was all about a group of media and a few students speculating about a big announcement by Facebook. Behind doors which kept away television cameras, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced changes in terms of controlling personal information and managing relationships.

To a degree, this is a result of facebook becoming a victim of its own success. So many users made so many connections, that ultimately the phrase "Facebook friend" didn't mean friend at all anymore. It meant acquaintance, at best.

"I think we make friends by sitting down over coffee and getting to know people," said Facebook user Dan Putman.

The theory is that small groups of friends come naturally. Today, Facebook announced it has engineered that potential into its system.

"In real life, I have friends from school, and I have friends at work, and I have friends from my bicycling club. And my friends from school don't know my friends from my bicycling club. So when I post on Facebook to everybody, 'Hey, I cycled 10 miles today,' my friends from school don't really care necessarily," said Facebook engineering director Andrew Bosworth.

From users and critics today, there was a sense that reducing the friendship din has been long overdue.

"There's always the people who, you know, they're saying let's say 10 thing a day to 1,000 people, and that's annoying, but if you can say 10 things to your five closest friends, that's fine," said user Jeremy Keeshin.

"I think it enables people to be less superficial if they want to," said analyst Larry Magid.

The new software and interface began to go online Wednesday. The company says users will begin to see it as soon as one of their Facebook friends groups them.


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