Today I did something that I have been planning to do for a long time. For the last few months/years my Facebook news feed has become subject to a deluge of information that I didn’t really care to see, including, but not limited to, updates like: “Joan just earned the ‘Cream of the Crop’ white ribbon in FarmVille! Joan got a big ol’ reward for being such a great farmer and wants to share their success with you!” Wow, fascinating. Joan is somehow related to me, though I’m not sure that we have ever met. I really couldn’t care less about what FarmVille, nor more generally what Joan has been up to lately. It is (dare I say) spam like this that has brought my Facebook usage down about 80% since its peek in College. In that time, I’ve moved closer and closer to a newer web service, Twitter, where I (at this point) only follow my close friends and people I find interesting. Though there are some significant differences between the two services, one of the main reasons why I have shifted my attention to Twitter is the fact that my social circle (again, at this point) remains more meaningful and more relevant to my offline relationships. So Today I took one step towards reclaiming the value of Facebook. I spent 10 minutes creating a list that I call “Close Friends,” which includes only those people who I actually care to keep up with. I have almost 500 friends on Facebook, and Close Friends includes only 100 of them. Close Friends has become my default news feed on Facebook and my Facebook friends have no idea if they are included or not in this list (Joan unfortunately did not make the cut). One might even argue that within my existing social circle this represents a type of asymmetric follow. In other words, those friends that are on my exclusive list are not required to include me in their own exclusive list. Ok ok, Facebook friend lists have been around since the end of 2007, but social graph segmentation is an issue that many social web services continue to struggle with, and it is a critical component for the future of the social web and the delicate balance struck therein between private and public. I have always complained about consuming too much data, but the other side of the coin may deserve even greater urgency. There may be certain shared items (status updates, location updates, funny videos) that I would rather not share with potential employers, family members, or coworkers, but that I am more than happy to share with close friends from Wesleyan. Any vision for a distributed social web should include the ability to segment access (or consumption) across different social web services. Imagine a Facebook privacy control panel for the entire web (without the Facebook logo of course) where the user controls who or what groups have access to which content. In a socialized web where online identity is secure, reliable, and standardized, and where interoperability allows for the integration of “lists” across social platforms, content could be tagged with keywords to denote who or what groups can see what and for how long. That content can then be syndicated throughout the web with access granted to only those users that fall within that web-wide list. For the more hands-off users a general privacy control panel might allow them to set access based on the type of item shared (video, photo, text, etc.). The additional benefit would be, of course, the ability to segment and prioritize by identity the massive amount of content we consume (ala Close Friends lists). We all hope that one day a layer of identity will emerge beneath the web, allowing users to interact with services as people, not screen names. As people we will expect those web services to be able to speak to each other, forming an online experience that in its totality is far greater than the sum of its parts (and far more lucrative). With that in mind, one of the central components to this experience will be a reliable system of segmentation for the secure and convenient delivery of and access to content.