Facebook just got a little bit more like Twitter. The social-media giant this week launched a subscription feature that lets non-friends follow you, a move that may once again draw the ire of privacy watchdogs.
Zach Rait at Facebook set up the introduction by posing what the company sees as a frustrating problem for its members: It hasn't been easy to choose exactly what you see in your News Feed.
Facebook aims to change all that with its new Subscribe button. In the coming days, you'll start seeing the Subscribe button in Facebook profiles. You can use it in one of three ways: to choose what you see from people in News Feed, to hear from people, even if you're not friends, and to let people hear from you, even if you're not friends.
"The subscribe feature is like the follow button in Twitter. It's part of a larger effort to accelerate feature upgrades or address complaints in response to competition and specifically Google Plus," said Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence. "They're trying to address any and all reasons users might have for finding fault or deficiency with Facebook. Some of the recent changes are long-standing 'white board' issues. Others are more direct responses to features in Google Plus."
The first option lets you declutter your News Feed. You can choose to see everything your friend posts, most updates, or only important updates, like a new job or a move. You can also decide what types of updates you see.
"Maybe you don't want to see every time your brother plays a game on Facebook, for example. Or maybe you'd like to see more stories from your best friends, and fewer from your coworkers," Rait said. "You also couldn't hear directly from people you're interested in but don't know personally -- like journalists, artists and political figures."
Maybe one of your friends has the funniest photos but boring status updates. Choose to see their photos only. Maybe another friend is a Mafia Wars fanatic and it clutters up your News Feed. Choose to go block out the social-game updates. You can even choose to see nothing at all from some friends.
Subscribing To Strangers
This next part is where the new Facebook tool gets interesting. You can Subscribe to people who you've never met, never talked to, and don't even know anyone you know -- complete strangers -- like rock stars, politicians and journalists.
"If you see a Subscribe button on your favorite blogger's profile, this means you can subscribe. Just click the button to get their public updates right in your News Feed," Rait said. "Just like with friends, you can choose how many and what types of updates you see after you've subscribed."
Build a Subscriber Base
If you wan to become a Facebook celebrity in your own right, you can get a Subscribe button on your profile. Rait explained that people who subscribe to you will get posts you set as "Public" in their News Feeds. Rather than opting you in automatically and forcing you to opt out, like Facebook often does, this time you have to opt in.
"Once you allow subscribers, you can decide who can comment and what notifications you get," Rait said. "You'll also see a Subscribers tab on your profile, where you can see who subscribes to you."
Posted: 2011-09-18 @ 11:44pm PT
I like it and think it's long overdue. Are we going to start seeing this button on all our favorite blogs now as a way to subscribe?
Thomas @ PRLuv