Twitter has a "follow" button. And beginning this week, Facebook will get a "subscribe" button – a functionality that allows users to track the profile updates of friends, acquaintances, public figures, and everyone in-between. Writing on the company blog, Facebook's Zach Rait framed the feature, which requires an opt-in authorization, as a way to modulate the constant flood of status updates.
"Until now, it hasn't been easy to choose exactly what you see in your News Feed," Rait wrote on the company blog. "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. You also couldn't hear directly from people you're interested in but don't know personally – like journalists, artists and political figures."
And for a certain subset of Facebook users, the subscription feature will make great sense indeed. A novelist looking to promote her new novel, for instance, could reach a whole new subset of potential fans. Ditto for the hard-stumping but little known would-be senator. As for the rest of us, well, as Meghan Peters points out at Mashable, we could get something out of the subscribe button, too.
"For the occasional Facebookers who mostly use the service to keep up with friends and post photos, here’s the bottom line: You never have to see your Aunt Suzie’s FarmVille updates ever again," Peters writes. "But, you can still see her photos, videos and status updates if you’d like. Before the Subscribe button launch, it was either all or nothing when it came to blocking a person’s updates from your News Feed. Now you can control what types of updates you see from a person and how often."
So will the subscribe feature find as many followers as Twitter? That depends, writes Emil Protalinski of ZD Net. "This feature actually lets you do more than Twitter already does. That being said, while Facebook has a much larger user base than Twitter, it’s not known for subscribing/following," he notes. "We’ll just have to wait and see whether people will want to keep using Facebook as just Facebook, or as Facebook and Twitter combined."
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