Facebook goes after Twitter with 'Subscribe' feature

Is Facebok treating on Twitters toes?

Following yesterday's revamp of how your Facebook friends are grouped, the social network has now added an option to allow you to follow the activities of people you aren't friends with.

The new 'Subscribe' feature will bring public updates from other users, avoiding the often awkward need to send a friend request to those you may not know personally.

The new feature, which mimicks very similar functionality on Twitter and Google+, also makes it easy for attention-seekers like celebrities, bloggers and politicians to broaden the reach of their updates.

For the users, it's a great way to stay in touch with people they don't actually know, or perhaps just follow those they may have an interest in stalking.

Control your news feed

Facebook, on the other hand, is marketing it as an easier way to control which posts from your friends shows up in your news feed.

For example, if certain pals are always posting about Farmville, or those annoying surveys, you can subscribe to their posts but omit the stuff that brings your finger to the un-friend trigger.

"Until now, it hasn't been easy to choose exactly what you see in your News Feed," said Facebook's Zach Rait in a blog post.

"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."

"With the Subscribe button, we're making it easier to do both."

Managing subscriptions

Everyone will be able to choose whether they have a Subscribe button on their profile and that can be managed on the Facebook subscriptions settings page.

Facebook has started to roll-out the subscriptions feature, which should become available to you over the next few days.

Just yesterday the company introduced Smart Lists, which automatically created lists for co-workers and school buddies for example, and Close Friends, which allowed you a seperate news feed from those users who's updates you actually care about.

Big changes happening at Facebook, and we're sure Twitter is observing this one in particular with great interest.

Chris Smith

A technology journalist, writer and videographer of many magazines and websites including T3, Gadget Magazine and TechRadar.com. He specializes in applications for smartphones, tablets and handheld devices, with bylines also at The Guardian, WIRED, Trusted Reviews and Wareable. Chris is also the podcast host for The Liverpool Way. As well as tech and football, Chris is a pop-punk fan and enjoys the art of wrasslin'.