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Facebook engineers copy Google+ with ‘Circle Hack’ app

Google Plus Circles

There’s been quite a bit of talk about how Google ripped off some of Facebook’s features with its new social network, Google+. But it seems the biting goes both ways. Now, a group of four Facebook engineers have launched an unofficial Facebook app called “Circle Hack,” which allows users to organize their friends into lists in a near-identical fashion to the “Circles” tool in Plus — one of our favorite features.

Since Circle Hack works in exactly the same way as Circles — even if it’s graphical interface isn’t quite as pretty — anyone who’s already on Google+ should know exactly how it works.

Since Plus is still technically closed to the general public (though there are a few ways around the wall), we’ll give you a quick run-down on how it works: Go to the Circle Hack Website, where you are presented with a white, no-frills landing page. Click the blue “login” button, where you will have to login to Facebook (if you aren’t already). You will then be asked to allow the application to access you Facebook information.

From there, you will be taken to a simple page, with each of your friends displayed as a box on the screen. At the bottom of the screen is a grey box that says “Drag here to create new list.” Pick a category you’d like to place a group of contacts, like “Family” or “College Buddies” — whatever you like. Like Google+’s Circles, you don’t have to drag each friend into the box individually. Simply click each friend you’d like to add to the group. Their contact box will turn blue. Once you’ve picked everyone you want to include (though you can add people later if you miss someone), simply click and hold on the last one you choose, and drag the whole group into the box.

From here, Circle Hack will prompt you to create a name for the group, which you can enter in a drop-down menu that automatically appears. Enter the name, click accept, and you’re done. Simply repeat that process for each group you’d like to create.

That’s all the functionality that exists, however, so anything else you’d like to do, like change privacy settings, edit the group or anything else, you have to do within Facebook itself. But it does simplify the process of making friends lists, which requires clicking your “Friends” icon in Facebook, selecting “Manage Friend List,” and then, on the next page, clicking on “Create a List.”

To actually use your friend lists once you’ve created them is an entirely other headache altogether, and requires customizing the privacy settings for each individual post, so this feature isn’t exactly practical. What it does show, however, is that Facebook — or at least some of its engineers — are taking Google+ seriously. And they should.

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