Facebook is developing a new feature for Messenger which would allow you to share content to a limited circle of close friends. The feature, currently under development under the name “Favorites,” was first discovered by app researcher Jane Manchun Wong, before its existence was confirmed to TechCrunch by Facebook directly. It’s a similar approach to Instagram’s “Close Friends” feature, which the Facebook owned network rolled out last year.
Facebook’s Favorites would let you manually designate certain friends to be in your inner circle. Then, whenever you have a Story or camera post you’d like to share using Messenger, you could send it to this list. It’s a middle ground between letting all your friends see content that’s posted on your Facebook Story, or else sending it privately to individuals via direct message. However, unlike Instagram, Facebook says the feature isn’t a way of restricting who sees your actual Facebook Story.
Favorites appears to be an attempt to encourage people to share more on Facebook, without worrying about a ballooning list of casual acquaintances accumulated over the years. It’s a problem that we were writing about way back in 2014 and, if my own Facebook friends list is any indication, the problem has only gotten worse in the years since.
The feature also aligns with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s attempts to pivot the company’s social networks into a more privacy-focused communications platform that’s the digital equivalent of a living room rather than a town square.
Facebook already has a similar feature called Friend Lists, that lets you sort your Facebook friends into Close Friends, Acquaintances, and Restricted. However, Favorites looks like it could offer a simpler approach, with just a single list of preferred friends to cultivate, similar to Instagram’s approach.
Facebook’s new Favorites feature is currently in the prototyping stage, and it’s early enough that the company hasn’t even officially started testing it internally. That means it could change a lot before it sees an official release, if it ever gets released at all.