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Google Plus Circles vs. Facebook Lists

14 July 2011 7 Comments

Adding people to Lists in Facebook is ridiculously difficult compared to adding people to Circles in Google Plus. Here is a step-by-step comparison.

Adding a person to a Circle in Google Plus

  1. Go to the person’s page using the friend search
  2. Google Plus Friend Search

  3. Hover over the “Circles” or button on the top right
  4. Google Plus Circles Button

  5. Click on the circles to which you want to add the person, or create a new list on the spot.
  6. Google Plus - Adding a friend to Circles

Adding a person to a List in Facebook

  1. Go to the person’s page using friend search
  2. Facebook Friend Search - Fan Page

  3. Look around for minutes to try and figure out how to put the person into a list
  4. Realize that you can’t add a person to lists or even see what lists they’re a part of from their profile page (which is completely non-obvious, but OK)
  5. Take a wild guess and click on the Account button at the top, hoping that there is some way to manage lists from there
  6. Facebook - Account Button

  7. Click on the Edit Friends button (which is still a guess, because the link says nothing about friend “lists”, but its worth a try).
  8. Facebook - Edit friends

  9. OK, we’re finally on a page that looks right, (even though the only indication that this page has anything to do with managing Lists is the Create a List button). So now you can finally filter for the person’s name.
  10. Facebook - Add friend to list - Leo Laporte

  11. Have a WTF moment!? You just want to create a list of Tech Journalists to add all the “Public Figures” that write about tech new, but it only let’s you add people who are your friends (as opposed to people whose fan pages you follow). This is ridiculously stupid, but fine, let’s see what it takes to add someone who is a “friend friend”.
  12. Facebook - Search for friend in friend list page

  13. Sit there puzzled, because there is no indication of how you could do anything to that user, besides clicking on their name, which would probably just take you back to their profile page.
  14. Go to click on the link anyways, hoping that it won’t take you to their profile page, but rather will give you options to change their list, but.. SURPRISE!! Take notice of the “Edit Lists” button that magically and unexpectedly appeared on the right side of the search result for your friend.
  15. Facebook - Add fiend to list - Edit Lists

  16. Sit back and pat yourself on the back for unlocking the completely unintuitive UI that facebook put in place for managing friend lists
  17. Hover over the Edit Lists button to realize that it doesn’t auto-expand
  18. Click on the Edit Lists button to see all of the lists to which your friend can be added
  19. Facebook - Select list to add friend to

  20. Add your friend to one of your existing lists
  21. Oh, but wait, did you want to add them to a new list? Go out of the Edit Lists view and click on the Create a List button, type in the name of the list, then filter for your friends name and add them to your list.
  22. Facebook - create a list

  23. Unless… you were already looking in an existing list, whereby the Create a List button doesn’t even appear on top of the screen anymore. Therefore, you have to click on the Friends link at the top to show all your friends again, after which the Create a List button appears again, then you can go find your friend again, and add them to the new list.. Psshew!
  24. Facebook - friends button

Sending a message to a Circle in Google Plus

  1. Type your message
  2. Use the circles bar below the message to add which circles your post should be sent to
  3. Google Plus - Share with Circles

Sending a message to a List in Facebook

  1. You can’t Click on the lock icon
  2. Facebook lock icon

  3. Click on the “These People” dropdown (and chuckle while reminiscing about classic Bill Cosby standup)
  4. Facebook - These People

  5. Counterintuitively click on “Specific People” (ya, call me crazy, but I don’t think “lists of people” when I see “Specific People”)
  6. Facebook - specific people

  7. Sit there and wonder what this random unlabeled textbox that appeared below the dropdown is supposed to be
  8. Facebook - Specific People textbox

  9. Click in the textbox and start typing random characters to see what it does and notice that it starts auto-completing the names of your friends and SURPRISE… your lists.
  10. Facebook - these people autocomplete

  11. Poke around for a little while longer searching for a way to get Facebook to show you all of your lists so you can choose the ones you want
  12. Sit there disappointed after you realize that they provide no mechanism to do this
  13. Add the lists you want by trying to remember them (or pull up a different browser window and follow the complex list of steps listed above to see all of your lists)
  14. Facebook - added lists for post

  15. Click the Save Settings button
  16. Facebook - save settings

  17. Sit there and wonder if your changes took effect since there was no indication on the lock icon and you were sent back to the posting page.
  18. Facebook - lock icon after customized share

  19. Hover over the lock icon and cry for joy as you see the indication that your changes took effect.
  20. Facebook - lock icon shows lists

Winner (by leaps and bounds):

Google Plus


  • Martin Klapetek said:

    Appearantly, you can send a message to a List in Facebook (found out just now) – click the lock icon below the share inputbox, click “Customize…” and then select “Particular people” from the dropdown box and then you can start typing the names of the Lists and thus include them in the receipents. Who knew..

  • Jamae Javid (author) said:

    Thanks, Martin. I updated the post.

  • Frank said:

    Oh my God. if this isn’t a biased article, i don’t know what is. you make the whole process of making Facebook lists appear to be more complicated than it really is. muy grandma has no problems making lists, what does that say about you? oh, and i sent her a google + invite. she just emailed me that she won’t be signing up for that service since it’s too complicated.

    Google+ doesn’t look so simple now, does it?

  • adam lee said:

    What a ridiculous article and utter garbage. The author is a moron if he seriously spent that length of time trying to figure it out:

    1 Edit Friends
    2 Click the big CREATE LIST button at the top of all your listed friends.
    3 Click the button by the side of your friends to add them to a list.

    Doing a status update is EXACTLY THE SAME on both platforms: select the circles/lists you want the status to be visible to.

    Having been on G+ for quite some time now, there is no different between G+ Circles and Facebook Lists. None at all. The whole big deal about Circles is NOTHING new when it comes to be social because Facebook Lists was there long before. Facebooks mistake was creeping it in along with everything else they implement instead of letting everyone know; the amount of people I know who don’t know about Facebook Lists is higher than I thought.

    Total fanboy article.

  • Aramis said:

    I don’t mind Facebook change but the only 1 feature that I don’t like is “Friend List”. Compare with G+ Circle, G+ Circle is much more better organize group of friend and easy for sharing content. Facebook “Friend List” cannot share single post to multiple group. Example when I write a post and I would like to share with multiple group like “Family” & “Close Friend” but it only can share only 1 List either “Family” or “Close Friend”. I can only choose “Friends” to share it all except “Restricted”. But the problem is I got “Family”, “Close Friend” and other group of friends or co-worker so I don’t want to share it all to others. Facebook cannot let me share multiple list or individual in the single post. But G+ Circle can.

  • Justin said:

    Thanks for the information. I am just acquainting myself with the Google+ format, and so far I see many advantages to the “circles” concept. I was not even aware of Facebook’s lists, but it seems like everything that Facebook puts out just adds to the confusion of an already chaotic platform. A scan over your post more than confirms that suspicion. I look forward to creating some narrowly defined work circles, which should enable me to use my time more effectively.


  • Simon said:

    Clearly some strong views about both Circles and Lists. I didn’t know about Lists until I read this article (despite being an occasional FB user) but I did know about Circles despite signing up only 5 minutes ago. From my brief experience with Circles is that it is much more intuitive than FB. FB started simple (back in the days when it was only available to students) but has got gradually more and more complicated as more things have been bolted on. Whereas Circles has been designed from the ground up with all this functionality so it is more intuitive. FB badly need a full revamp to make it simpler and easier for the user to use, find there way around and control their information (all the functionality is there but it is terribly teadious finding it for the first time)!