What Makes Certain Friends on Facebook Appear at the Top of the Friends List?
By David Nield
Friends who appear at the top of the Facebook Chat sidebar are people you interact with regularly. Facebook attempts to work out which friends you are most likely to want to chat with, and places these contacts at the top of the list in Facebook Chat. Facebook also displays these friends more often in your news feed.
Facebook doesn't reveal exactly how it calculates which contacts should appear at the top of your friends list, but it is based on your interactions with them. These interactions might include private messages, wall posts, likes and comments, as well as photos or statuses you are tagged in together. The list changes dynamically as you interact with different people over time.
It's not possible to alter the people who appear at the top of your friends list automatically, other than interacting with them more regularly on Facebook. The More Friends section includes other online contacts you can interact with, and you can also use the search box to bring up a particular friend to chat with.
Specific Friends in Chat
Facebook enables you to set a specific list of friends to appear in the Chat sidebar if you don't want to use the site's automatic ranking system. Click the small gear icon below the sidebar, choose "Advanced settings," and then turn chat off for all of your contacts except a specific group of users. Alternatively, turn chat on for all your contacts, but block a particular set of your friends from contacting you.
Interacting With Friends
Click on any contact listed in the Chat sidebar to send a message. Friends who are online appear with a green dot by their name; friends who have the Facebook app installed on their cell phone or tablet have a mobile phone symbol by their name. If no dot or symbol appears, the friend is offline and chat messages are sent to the user's inbox for reading later.
An information technology journalist since 2002, David Nield writes about the Web, technology, hardware and software. He is an experienced editor, proofreader and copywriter for online publications such as CNET, TechRadar and Gizmodo. Nield holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and lives in Manchester, England.