Katango algorithm sorts Facebook friends into circles

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Facebook may have an ally in the looming war with Google+ and its Circles feature, in the form of an app which arranges Facebook friends into subgroups - automatically.

Start-up Katango has created an app which examines a user's Facebook friends and sorts them on the basis of geographical location, school and friends of friends.

"At times, the algorithm surprises us with the socially meaningful connections it draws from a given set of data. For example, we’ve found that all sorts of location information – where you worked, where you went to school, where you live – can surface useful relationship links between you and your friends online that are relevant to creating subgroups for sharing specific information," says the company.

"We’ve also found that your number of friends and the types of interactions you have with those friends strongly correlates to your age."

Google Circles has been highly praised for mimicking real-life relationships, allowing users to, for example, have different groups for work and university friends. But for those with large numbers of Facebook friends, the process or sorting them into different groups can be pretty time-consuming. Katango does it all automatically.

"Mostly everyone wants a group specifically for family, which is interesting because that’s – counterintuitively – one of the more difficult groups for the algorithm to compile," says the company.

"On the other hand, some users have been completely stunned at the groups our algorithm was able to create for them because it found connections between people they may not have consciously realized were there."

Right now, Katango's available only for Facebook and only for the iPhone. But the company says it plans to extend its range ti include LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as other mobile platforms.