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Thank you, Facebook: A way to demote annoying 'friends' on the sly

There's no chance of hurt feelings, but the upshot is that you'll see a lot less of their wonder-of-me moments in your News Feed every day.

Charles Cooper Former Executive Editor / News
Charles Cooper was an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet.
Charles Cooper
2 min read
Silence is golden Facebook

Just to show you that the boffins at Facebook aren't totally consumed by the approach of a certain impending IPO, the company's lab rats have come up with a feature that lets you demote folks from "friend" to acquaintance without them ever being the wiser.

This is one of those "why didn't they do this earlier?" moments, but let's not look the proverbial gift horse in the (cyber) mouth. For anyone stuck with a distant Facebook "friend" whose news feed is a veritable nonstop, play-by-play of their lives -- yes, the very definition of too much sharing -- Facebook now lets you boot them to an acquaintances list. They will still be listed as your Facebook friend so there's no chance of hurt feelings. But the upshot is that you'll see a lot less of their wonder-of-me moments in your News Feed every day.

This is part of an evolution that began after Facebook rolled out a subscribe button last September. Before that, Facebook users could only friend each other. Facebook engineer Jonathan Coens described the latest tweak this way:

Last fall we introduced the Close Friends and Acquaintances lists to help you see more of what you want in your news feed. Using these lists helps you see more posts from your close friends and fewer from acquaintances you don't know as well. Today we're announcing a tool to make it easier to add friends to your Acquaintances list with one click. When you add friends to your Acquaintances list they won't be unfriended or notified. You'll just see fewer of their posts in news feed.

That sound you hear is the applause from a standing ovation.