Facebook has gone the Twitter route, albeit in a more granular fashion. Users may click the Subscribe button to follow users they don't know and choose what information they want to see from that user.
Facebook Sept. 14 launched a Subscribe button
, a tool
that aims to poke through the social network's sharing walls by letting users pick
what they see from people in the News Feed, even if they are not friends with
Facebook was built seven years ago with the construct that users
cannot "friend" or connect with other users unless those users
confirm their friend requests and agree to share information with them. While
some have criticized this synchronous, two-way sharing as too limiting, other,
more private people believe this is a good thing.
The Subscribe button offers users a compromise. In
addition to letting user choose what they see from peoples' News Feeds,
may "follow" users they don't know. It's fair to compare the tool--many
have--to Twitter's popular Follow button, which is the gateway to
interaction on that microblog.
Facebook has started prompting users to subscribe to the
accounts of Facebook employees. Users will see the "people to subscribe
to" prompt under the "upcoming events" section to the right of
their News Feed. However, users will also find the Subscribe button on the
right of the News Feed of all users whose profiles are public.
, for example, clicked on the profile of Facebook
engineer Lars Rasmussen, the former Google product manager renowned for
building Google Maps and the failed Google Wave.
Once we clicked the Subscribe
button to follow Rasmussen we were able to choose to follow all of his
updates, most updates (which is the default setting) and just important
Subscribe is even more granular; users can choose to
see any combination of "status updates," "life events," "photos and videos" or "games."
Or, users may retain the default setting,
which is to follow all of a user's information sharing on the network.
Users may also click the option to unsubscribe to cease
following a user's account. Also, users may opt to broadcast their updates to
people who aren't their friends by opting in to receive a Subscribe button on
their profile. Users who subscribe to those who add the button will see the
user's public posts.
To opt in, navigate to the subscriptions page
and click to allow subscribers. Users may also choose
to let others comment on their posts and receive notifications when someone
follows them. By navigating to the Subscribers section on their profiles, users
may edit their settings and even opt out of the Subscribe tool.
Subscribe joined the new Smart Lists feature
, which auto-populates friends lists, of
Facebook's Friend Lists as two new information-sharing tools that sport a great
degree of granularity.
These tools won't lure more users to Facebook, which is
the biggest online social network with 750 million-plus users, but it should
keep them from going to Google+ for more fine-grained sharing tools.