Wither Facebook’s Interests Lists

Like most people, I’ve got a love-hate thing for Facebook. I spend too much time there. It’s the laptop and smart phone version of the refrigerator door you open every half hour hoping to find something new.

But it’s also one of the primary ways many people, groups and organizations communicate these days. And a great if unwieldy source of information on what’s happening, when and where, and who’s going to be there.

But relying only on your newsfeed to cull that info is cumbersome and time-consuming; remembering every place, group, organization or association you liked or are interested in is impossible.

My savior were Facebook’s Interests Lists, which once I began organizing them properly, were my main go-to for all sorts of, well, interests. I had lists for street photographers, for news and events in Ljubljana, favorite blogs and bloggers, friends and acquaintances in Patagonia, street artists in Bogota. It was a flood of mini news feeds created by me – not Facebook’s algorithms. And it was for me the absolutely most useful and practical aspect of the world’s largest social network. So useful in fact that Facebook decided to quietly kill it in the latter half of November.

Its demise was given brief mention in this newsroom.fb announcement on 16 November, buried well down the page:

Interest lists are a way to organize and view content on Facebook. Given low consumer usage or interest lists, we have decided to retire this feature…

You’ll also come across this explanation if you search any form of ‘interests lists’ in Facebook help or support:

Interest lists were a way to organize and view content on Facebook. As of November 18, 2016, interest lists were retired from Facebook. You can still see updates from Pages and profiles on Facebook in your News Feed by following them.

End of discussion.

I don’t believe their explanation, by the way; I think the ease with which we were able to access information we actually wanted to see and read ran counter to Facebook’s raison d’etre, which is to keep us there as long as possible, thus their decision to deep-six what was arguably the platform’s most useful feature. From their point of view, allowing users to craft their own news feeds was a step too far.

Good news?

The lists still exists and are still accessible if you have the link saved or bookmarked off-site. If you don’t, try searching your browser history with the search term facebook.com/lists/ . Those you used fairly recently will be there.

They also still exist on the mobile version in their original form in the sidebar section. You can’t see the members of the list, but the feed does appear to still be updating in real time.

That doesn’t mean they’ll be there forever. Given Facebook’s history, they could be gone tomorrow. Which begs the question: is there a similar way to organize your interests? There’s still the option to create and expand friends groups, but when I experimented with that, I wasn’t able to add pages and organizations, which defeated my purpose.

If anyone has any ideas or experiences, I’d love to hear them.


Today’s Pic du Jour, the site’s 1,112th straight, was snapped on 4 June 2012, in Ljubljana, Slovenia.




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