I don’t know how to interpret the new API methods uncovered in that post and what the code really means, but this news does seem to indicate that Facebook is on its way to developing what Nick O’Neill calls Facebook’s Killer Feature. I’ve written previously about some work-arounds for this problem of personal and professional friends being all in one group, and how segregating them would be essential to widespread adoption of Facebook for B2B networking.
This recent speculation only suggests to me that the new feature enabling classes of friends, which would be a serious blow to LinkedIn, may be coming sooner than I had expected. But whatever the timing, I am absolutely convinced that Facebook will have this feature.
Why? Because it is essential for Facebook to have if it wants to achieve its goal of representing what Mark Zuckerberg calls “the social graph” within Facebook. Zuckerberg says the social graph exists in reality, and Facebook is just making it visible.
Well, the reality is people have different kinds of relationships. Some are strictly personal. Others are professional or business-related. If Facebook is to accurately mirror The Social Graph, it must have a way of distinguishing between these kinds of relationships.
You can do this already to some extent through the limited profile and by using groups, but that’s the MacGyver way. It needs to be easy. Facebook needs to make maintaining these “arms length” relationships as simple as the regular “friend” interactions.
It will, because continuing its “astonishing” growth and maturing into a true information-sharing utility depends on it. Zuckerberg knows it. He’s a smart guy. Like the United Way commercial used to say about Minnesota Vikings Center Matt Birk, “He went to Harvard.”