Facebook have unveiled their “subscription” system for pages that will function in a similar way to how following people on Twitter works. Users who subscribe to a Facebook page and eventually a profile will receive a notification when its owner published an update that they flag as ‘public’.
From Wednesday, users will begin to see a “Subscribe” button next to the “Message” and “Poke” buttons on Facebook profiles. You can subscribe to profiles and pages, and from there you can filter out what sort of updates you’d like to have in your news feed. There are some subtle differences in what you are able to control, depending on whether or not you are Facebook friends with users you subscribe to.
If you aren’t friends with someone you can still subscribe to their feed, and anything that they have labelled as ‘public’ will appear in your feed. You can also choose to only see status updates, and filter our game of photo updates for example. Obviously these all have to have been posted as ‘public’ by the author.
When it comes to your actual friends, subscribing affords you the ability to micromanage what you see from that user in your stream. You can see as much or as little as you want, so if you want to keep your finger firmly on the pulse with your best of best friends, you can set the Subscribe button to show “All Updates”. Likewise, if you want to ignore someone until they have something decent to say, there is the “Only Important” option for things like relationship statuses and the like.
The Subscribe feature is entirely optional, so you don’t actually have to subscribe to anybody at all, and if you don’t like the idea of complete strangers following you, you can either not make any of your updates public, or disable the Subscribe feature from your profile altogether.