New Facebook Subscribe Feature

Facebook is about to launch a new feature for its users that will allow people to “subscribe” to profiles without becoming “friends”. Facebook users will have the possibility to choose whether to put a “subscribe” button on their profile, therefore granting the possibility to visitors to follow their public updates without entering in their “friends list”. This is a feature Facebook designed expecially for “journalists, artists and political figures”, and in general for all those users who want their public updates spread without necessarily accepting friendship requests by unknown people.

Facebook feature, new subscribe button

After putting the “subscribe” button in your profile, everyone will be able to follow your public updates (the choice in the updates is between “public”, “friends” and “custom”), and you will not be asked to approve subscription requests. You can, on the other way, decide whether subscribers can comment your updates and whether you will or you will not receive notifications for each new subscriber.

Plus, and more interestingly, each friend in your friends list will have a “subscribed” button in their profile by default. That is to say, if you are someone’s friend, you automatically subscribe to his/her updates (but, of course, if you subscribe to someone’s public updates, you are not automatically in his/her friends list). This button is particularly important because it allows you to decide which kind of updates you want from each of your friends. You can either choose “All updates”, “Most updates” or “Only important”, and then further define your choice by choosing the topic of the updates between “Life events”, “Status updates”, “Photos and videos” and “Games” (no more games’ achievements on my wall!). If one of your friends is particularly boring in his/her updates, you can also decide to unsubscribe from their updates without removing him/her from your friends list.

Facebook feature, control your friends' news feed

This is a further step from Facebook towards the improvement of its product (after the new privacy settingsannounced less than a month ago). As Craig Kanalley puts it in his very interesting article on Huffington Post, Facebook is quickly answering to the launch of Google+ so that its competitor does not look very much special anymore. In Kanalley’s words:

Video chat? Facebook added that.

Circles? Facebook just announced “smart lists” in addition to the already-existing groups functionality. In fact, smart lists one-up circles in that they do the work for you.

The opportunity to follow public updates from as many people as you want, while also giving people the opportunity to follow your public posts without being friends? Subscriptions launched today. And, smartly, Facebook made it opt-in so it doesn’t freak out users who don’t want to bother with follow functionality.

On the other part of the barricade, Google+ is moving slowly. Since the announcement of the beta version, early this summer, a beta that has more and more become a release version (even if, as far as I know, no official statement has been done), no particular improvement has been added to a social network that has great flaws and that is not properly user-friendly. Recent events are making me think once more that a company shouldn’t challenge a competitor on the very same ground, with the very same weapons. Particularly if the competitor’s product is widely accepted and widely used as Facebook is.

In fact, so far at least, Google+’s biggest accomplishment is improving Facebook itself.

  1. September 22nd, 2011

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