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Facebook offers new way to downgrade friends to 'acquaintances'

Jacob Wackerhausen/iStockphoto

It was only a few months ago that Facebook faced facts: Not everyone is either a friend or not a friend – there are degrees to which we care about people.

Thus was introduced the "Close Friends" and "Acquaintances" lists to help separate the folks we are actually friends with from the people from high school we just want to gawk at once in a blue moon.

Now, the social-networking site has created a new tool to make it easier to add friends to your Acquaintances list, essentially meaning your newsfeed won't be clogged by their updates –without you having to deal with any awkwardness.

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"When you add friends to your Acquaintances list they won't be unfriended or notified," the company said. "You'll just see fewer of their posts in the news feed."

The tool also looks at how often you interact with other users and makes suggestions as to who to put on your Acquaintances list. Which could either mean that Facebook knows more about who your friends really are more than you do – or just that Facebook isn't as lazy about curating your online social life as you are.

The tool should be welcomed by anyone who always sees their news feed clogged with updates by people they're not really interested in – Oh, you cleaned your car this weekend, good for you, person I barely know – but for whatever reason still want to keep as part of their online social life.

With so much "unfriending" going on – more than half a billion people were "unfriended" last year – this is clearly a way for Facebook to provide another option.

Of course, some people will always be reluctant to prune their social networks. The question is, why?

What's your Facebook friend list like? Do you unfriend people you are no longer interested in – or is it a matter of the more the merrier?

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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