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Facebook adds organization feature to Friend Lists in Chat

Facebook has rolled out a newly enhanced Facebook Chat. The new Chat allows users to group friends in the online friends list as well as appear offline or online for whichever groups they choose.

Screenshot by Harrison Hoffman/CNET

Friend Lists has long been an underused feature in Facebook. The feature allows users to split their friends up into different groups, choosing different privacy settings for each one. It is clear now that Facebook has bigger plans for the feature and it's getting serious about trying to persuade people to use it. Recently, Facebook automatically created Friend Lists for its users in an effort to help them filter and better consume their Live Stream. Now, Facebook has redesigned their Chat feature in order to take advantage of Friend Lists. Users can now organize their previously unwieldy Chat lists into groups, defined by their Friend Lists.

Upon loading up Chat for the first time since this change, Facebook users are prompted to say which Friend Lists they want to add to Chat. Users can segment these friends into sublists for Chat, and everyone else gets dumped into a generic "Other Friends" list. This alone is going to be enough for a lot of users to put these previously uncategorized friends into a List. While there apparently wasn't enough motivation for users to group their friends before, now that they are grouping them for the purposes of a clean Chat list, the rest of the functionality of Friend Lists throughout the site is unlocked. Suddenly users can now filter by these Lists that they have taken the time to create, send Inbox messages to whole lists, and create customized privacy settings. I have no doubt that Facebook has more plans for Friend Lists as well.

Not only does this new grouping by Friend Lists give users a cleaner view of their online friends, but users can also toggle whether they appear offline or online for a certain group. This is yet another feature that is going to provoke people to start organizing their friends.

Facebook has been doing a lot of work lately, building new functionality into the site. On Friday, the site brought "refresh alerts" to its home page and now it just rolled out this newly enhanced Chat. It looks like the Facebookers are working overtime to try to win back the hearts of some of the users that they angered in their last major redesign.