Facebook Adds Twitter-Like Feature for Following Non-Friends

Facebook Subscribe Button

“It’s too late for Facebook to move away from its two-way friending system,” that’s what I wrote just a day ago. Well, Facebook has proven me wrong.

The massive social network just launched a new feature following the introduction of Smart List, which I reviewed yesterday. This one is the Subscribe button, which you will see in the upper-right corner of a profile (if enabled by that person).

It’s a way to have public status updates of other Facebook users appear on your newsfeed, without sending a friend request. Think follow on Twitter or circling on Google+.

This feature not only allows you to hear from interesting people whom you may not know personally (e.g., journalists or political figures) or simply those who aren’t your Facebook friends, it also lets you control the frequency and type of updates. Choose from three frequencies — All Updates, Most Updates and Only Important — and four types of updates — Live Events, Status Updates, Photos and Videos, and lastly, Games.

Facebook Subscribe ButtonConfusing? Sure it is. What if I’m only subscribing to the Only Important frequency with an update type of Games? Unless Facebook decides that it’s important for me to know my friend’s high score, I’d probably not see a single update. At least, that’s what I thought. I tried these settings on technology blogger Robert Scoble’s profile as an experiment, but it seems that every one of his public posts is appearing on my news feed. I’ll continue to test this.

Anyway, you can also use these new options with your Facebook friends, to custom-tailor the status updates you see (or don’t).

Facebook Pretty Much Nailed It, But…

There’s an important restriction included with these enhancements. Scoble posted the following just an hour after trying out the new subscribe button:

“Hahah, I just tried subscribing back to everyone subscribing to me and Facebook warned me I was behaving badly and that if I continued this behavior I would be kicked off the system. Yikes, never saw that warning on Twitter or Google+!”

Opt-In

To enable the Subscribe button on your profile, simply visit the Subscription Page and click on the Allow Subscribers button. You will be given the option to decide whether subscribers (non-friends) are allowed to comment on your posts, and whether you’d like to be notified whenever you get a new subscriber.

Source: The Facebook Blog

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