An Investigation Of Facebook Grouping

Final Report


Recently, online social networking sites have become some of the most popular activities on the internet. Currently with more than 500 million users, Facebook is huge. However, concerns about the privacy of users have increased. And even though Facebook has improved the user interface for privacy settings, there is still room for more user control within an individual's friend network. The average number of friends that users have is currently 130 and rising. It is not uncommon for somebody to have more than 300 friends, and many people have more than 500 friends. This leads to the question, how many of your Facbook "Friends" are really your friends? Is there an easy way to interact with only certain groups of your Friends at different times?
To this purpose, Facebook has the Friend Lists feature which allows users to group their friends in different lists, which they can then use to control their privacy settings. Unfortunately, the interface to make or edit a Friend List currently requires users to click through all of their Friends. This becomes a very difficult task for users that have more than say, 100 Friends, which is less than the average user.

Where we come in

We think that Friend Lists are a good feature, but they need a better interface so that they actually be used. Over the summer we are going to do a user study to find out how people think about their different social groups in Facebook. We will use the interviews to get an idea of what kind of interface would be useful. Future work will involve actually implementing this interface in a way that can also be applied to other online social networks such as Twitter and location-sharing sites.