Facebook is getting lots of attention today on news of a pending "Interest List" service touted as the next evolutionary step in the company's efforts at boosting its relevance to businesses and perhaps even displacing Twitter.   

Marching Toward Twitter-like Services

To that end, the company has been marching toward Twitter-like features with a "Following function" called Subscriptions it launched in mid-September. The function helps tweak news feeds from friends, but more importantly, non-friends, like corporate brands. The service is also two-way, allowing sharing of public updates with friends, and letting anyone "Subscribe" to your news feed (a.k.a tweets).

Emil Protalinsky over at Ziff puts it this way about the new feature,

It’s worth noting how similar the feature is to Twitter Lists. Ever since Facebook launched Subscriptions, the social networking giant has been offering more and more features that mimic how Twitter functions." 

Interest Lists Being Tested

Now reports of "Interest Lists" are surfacing from various news outlets tracking the social networking behemoth, as screen shots captured the "Add to Interests Lists" drop down menu found on "Timeline," the latest Pages function that was rolled-out just last week. "Start an interest list to see a special news feed of related posts," was the descriptor used by Facebook. Screen Shot 2012-03-05 at 9.09.08 AM.png

Burberry Timeline Page in Facebook with Interest List in drop down menu

Socialfresh first reported this feature on March 1st after finding the Interest List menu item on a Timeline page, with news that the feature is now hidden from corporate brand Pages in Facebook (see screen shot captured by Socialfresh from the Burberry Timeline Page above).

To be relevant, some social networking analysts believe the Interest Lists must go beyond friends' pages and be sharable publicly, as well as include options to share (or not) with the larger universe.  This would put it on a level similar to what Pinterest does. Pinterest is focused on bookmarking/organizing images and other content on boards that are then available to other people with the same interests.

If Facebook did take its Interest Lists to a wider range of content, we could see competition for Pinterest and for Twitter lists. After all, we don't want to be organizing and sharing our favorite information in a million different places.

At last count (September, 2011) Facebook had 800 million users with a monthly growth of close to 4% (3.73%). By way of contrast in October, 2011 Twitter claimed roughly 100 million active users