Facebook has just rolled out new features that both take inspiration from rival social networks and improve on them. The biggest changes come from the way in which we organize friends on Facebook and how we choose to get updates from the pages and people we find most interesting:
• The “Subscribe” button will allow you to see public updates from a person, public figure, or brand in your News Feed — even without a formal friend request. It’s similar to a Twitter follow, but takes things one step further by letting you customize the amount of updates shown: all, most, or “important updates only” for major profile changes like employment or location.
• Fortunately, it’s opt-in, and you can turn it on here.
• While Facebook has long had Twitter integration, the functionality now seems to be more streamlined, though built on the same plugin that’s been around for a while. When you link your Twitter account officially, all public updates on Facebook will be posted to Twitter as well.
Facebook is also building on the robust sharing controls it introduced a few weeks back by bolstering lists, a historically under-utilized Facebook feature that has been popularized by Google+’s Circles.
• Smart Lists will automatically populate with friends from work, school, family, and your city based on the networks you belong to. It’s designed to simplify sharing with people you have an established connection with, such as only sharing college photos with your college friends.
• Facebook will also automatically suggest lists for friends that aren’t yet in one, while still leaving the “Close Friends” and “Acquaintances” lists completely to your choosing.
That’s a lot of new features from Facebook in a relatively short period, and it’s hard not to see it all as a result of increased competition from Google and Twitter — and we expect to see more at the f8 developer conference next week, where the company is expected to launch a new music service.
This article originally appeared on thisismynext.com as Facebook introduces Subscriptions, native Twitter integration, Smart Lists.