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Facebook introduces the Subscribe button

Facebook yesterday introduced the Subscribe button, which will allow you to follow updates of other Facebook users who are not your friends. If you are interested in what someone has to say – perhaps a famous athlete, a movie star, or a journalist – you can just click on the Subscribe button in their profile and their public posts will appear in your News Feed.

If this sounds a lot like Twitter, that’s because it is. You now have a chance to follow – sorry, subscribe to – anyone who wants their tweets – sorry, updates – to be public. And, of course, other people have the opportunity to subscribe to you.

However, there are some subtle and important differences from the all-or-nothing tweet-stream that you get on Twitter. When you subscribe to someone on Facebook, you can now choose how many and what type of updates you will see. If you are not interested in what games people play, then you can choose not to see those updates; if you only want to see photos, then you can choose that option too.

And these News Feed filters don’t just apply to non-friends that you subscribe to; Facebook has extended these options to friends as well. No more annoying updates from friends telling you they just planted potatoes on FarmVille, or they are going to the diner for breakfast; you can now effectively tailor your News Feed so you only see exactly what you want to see, whether the updates are from friends or not.

With the introduction of the Subscribe button, people may ask: “What’s the difference between having a profile with subscribers and having a Facebook Page that people ‘Like’?”

Well, if you are an individual, not too much. Although organizations such as Starbucks (and The Online Mom!) will still prefer a more public Facebook Page to promote themselves, celebrities and other public figures can choose either option, or both. In each case, subscribers and ‘Likers’ will still get updates, but with the subscriber option, both the public figures and the subscribers have more control over what appears.

Although you automatically subscribe to your friends, it may be a while before you see too many Subscribe buttons on other people’s profiles. That’s because they have to go to the Facebook Subscriptions Page and click on Allow Subscribers first. You have to do the same if you want non-friends to subscribe to you.

Your Subscriptions and Subscribers will appear under your photo on your Profile age. You can adjust what your subscribers see at any time by opening the Subscribers page and clicking on Edit Settings.

The Subscriber feature continues the recent trend of making Facebook more open in terms of who you can connect with but more private in terms of what you share. Now you can truly broadcast to the world as much or as little as you want!

Comment by Uneeka Jay, posted 9/18/2011, 2:46 PM:

While this is very similar to Twitter and Google , I welcome the option! I have been one that has struggled with my FB identity because I started it geared towards family. When clients started "friend requesting" me, I was always unsure of how to react. This allows clients to access my updates without being my friend. Love it! Uneeka Jay CEO Powermommy Nation Powermommynation.com
Comment by Robyn Wright of RobynsOnlineWorld.com, posted 9/15/2011, 3:42 PM:

Sounds an awful lot like Google to me
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