Facebook helps users connect with all of the relationships in their lives. However, real-world relationships are complex. Not every relationship is the same, and every friend is unique. This is one reason why my blog does not have a link to Facebook… do I really want the internet to know when I’m away on vacation?
By collapsing all the different relationships into one bucket of “friends,” Facebook created the problem of conflicting social spheres. Some groups just don’t mix in real life, and some information is not for all friends—regardless of how close your relationship is — because of the type of relationships we have.
Offline, people deal with that problem by spatial-temporal segregation. We simply meet different groups of people at different places and times. But on Facebook, we’re stuck; we either don’t share, or share with everyone. Although Facebook subsequently implemented features that allow users to place friends into groups, those features were Band-Aid fixes that didn’t drive adoption. Google is coming out with a new social networking feature that attempts to allow you to segregate those relationships with circles…. more to come.