Facebook’s latest update now allows people to share their thoughts in a new way: On Tuesday, the company unveiled lists, a new feature that lets users post everything from their favorite beauty products to their fashion bucket lists, Valentine’s Day wish lists, 2018 goals and anything else they want to itemize.
Users can create text lists, or copy them from their feeds, and personalize them in various colors and emojis. The goal is to enable people to share what they’re passionate about simply and easily, so it sparks conversation and interactions on Facebook.
The update follows major News Feed changes unveiled in January to split friends’ shares and comments from those of publishers and brands. The company pointed to a 2015 paper published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, which asserted that passive Facebook use, even for just 10 minutes a day, negatively influenced people’s wellbeing.
Chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg aims to change that. During the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, he warned investors that the network would de-emphasize passive content and focus more on “meaningful interactions” between people and their loved ones.
In Facebook’s grand scheme, the ability to post lists may seem trivial but there could be something to it. In the Internet era, lists have become standard fare, from “10 Ways To Rock That Date” to “5 Crazy Diets That Actually Work.” According to conventional wisdom — and psychology, for that matter — well-organized, finite pieces of content can both grab attention and put people at ease. And in the fast-moving free-for-all of the Internet, anything that draws focus is a prized asset. If they can inspire people to weigh in and engage more with friends and family, even better.
Facebook’s emphasis on personal relationships will wind up being good for the business, Zuckerberg promised, at least in the long run. But in the short term, the company lost one million North American users between the third and fourth quarters, and time spent on Facebook fell by about 50 million hours a day.