Facebook Encroaches Further on FriendFeed’s Turf

Josh Catone
Josh Catone

When Facebook began to offer lifestreaming from outside services in April and May, and last month rolled out their newly designed profile and News Feed pages, some called it “FriendFeedization.” Or, to put it more bluntly, Facebook is slowly but surely taking FriendFeed mainstream … they’re just doing it without FriendFeed.

Today, Facebook is taking broader steps onto FriendFeed’s turf by adding better filters to the site’s News Feed.

When FriendFeed burst on the scene last March, it prompted some to wonder if it solved a problem or merely highlighted one. FriendFeed is great at bringing together all the disparate pieces of our online activity and that of our friends, but it doesn’t help us cope with all that information any better — in fact, by adding a new layer of conversation around our online streams, it might actually contribute to information overload. Dealing with information overload isn’t just about organizing the data, but also about cutting it down to size.

As Fred Oliveira wrote last March, “Friendfeed needs filtering. If I already have Twitteriffic on, It makes sense to be able to filter out all Twitter bits from my friendfeed. If I’m in the mood for checking out photos from friends, I may want to see only photos on my friendfeed. If I’m looking for what my friends have been listening to on Last.fm, I might want to see only that.”

Better filters on Facebook is something that users have been calling for there as well. Today’s improvements are a tiny step in that direction. The new filtering options will allow the News Feed to be filtered by application — to see only news stories related to specific apps — and by friend groups. News Feeds on the new profile design could already be filtered by “Top Stories,” “Status Updates,” “Photos,” and “Posted Items.”

The additional filters give users that much more control over how much data they are exposed to and how that data is reaching them. In February, Sean Ammirati asked for three other data points on Facebook’s filters that we’d also love to see (especially #2):

  1. see all my friend’s actions that could have shown up in my feed
  2. apply my own filters to the feed
  3. understand why one specific item was delivered to my feed

That said, by continuing to improve the News Feed with support for additional external services, and better filters, Facebook is continuing on their path toward becoming the mainstream everything. From photosharing, to messaging, to bookmarking, and lifestreaming, Facebook is starting to look like it was built to funnel all of the coolest Web 2.0 services to its massive mainstream audience.

We’d expect Facebook to continue adding filtering and feature enhancements in the coming months.