Facebook made 4 platform changes this week that aggressively compete with some of the most popular functionality on Twitter, Google+ and Tumblr:
Smart Friends ListsAll of these changes will likely be appreciated by Facebook users, and will likely help stem much of the criticism Facebook's gotten as of late. It will be interesting to see how Google, Twitter and Tumblr respond to Facebook's new functionality.
Facebook will now start creating intelligent friend lists for users to help facilitate sharing and filtering based on likely interests + need states. Facebook is starting everyone off with Work, School, Family and City lists, but the intelligence will start recommending people to you as you create your own custom lists as well. This is a major attempt by Facebook to show that they can do lists better than Google, who launched Circles as the main attraction of Google+.
Subscribe to a Person
Until now, Facebook relationships were always a mutual connection between two users. However, users now have the option to allow others to "subscribe" to them, without actually "friending" them. This new asynchronous dynamic gives personalities the ability to broadcast public information to anyone who's interested while still preserving their personal relationships. This means public figures no longer need to manage profiles AND pages for themselves (though pages are still the solution for brands and products that will build more robust content). Allowing asynchronous relationships is a major departure from Facebook's policy to date, and is a direct attack on Twitter.
Facebook to Twitter sync
Though Facebook pages have had the option of syndicating their content out to Twitter for a while, soon users will also be able to link their Facebook accounts to their Twitter accounts. Facebook is hoping that its users will have less reason to hop over to Twitter, while at the same time send more traffic from Twitter into Facebook.
View Page Post Shares
Starting today when you view a post on a Facebook page you will be able to see how many "shares" it has, in addition to 'likes' and 'comments'. When you click the "shares" button you will see a list of people who shared that post to their own page, and any public comments on their re-post. This isn't a major feature, but it makes sharing feel much more like Tumblr's popular "reblog" feature.