Facebook announced yet another new feature is hitting its social network — the ‘subscribe’ button. Now users can decide what they want to see in their news feeds and more easily connect with users who aren’t their friends on the network.
The button gives users more control over their news feed, something that has been lacking in the past.
Users will be able to decide if they want to see all updates from their friends, most updates (Facebook says this is the same amount of content users see now), or just important updates — such as a friend announcing an engagement or a new job. It also gives users the option to block posts about games, which should be welcome news to thouse who complain about Facebook spam.
The subscribe function also incorporates even more features that seem to be influenced by Google’s new social network, following Facebook’s Tuesday announcement that it was making it simpler to put friends into groups. Now, as on Google+ or on Twitter, users can follow other’s profiles without needing to become friends with them. Anyone who enables the Subscribe button will give others the option to view tweets they’ve marked as “Public.” The following function is optional and opt-in, so you don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to share your posts with strangers.
The new features seems to go against what Facebook has been about since its launch: two-way relationships. As recently as July, Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said that the definition of a group is that “everyone inside the group knows who else is in the group.”
But these last two features do just the opposite. Not only do users not know what groups other users have sorted them into, they now have the option of letting unnamed followers read their posts. It’s not necessarily a bad move — and the features Facebook has added are certainly some that users have been clamoring for — but it does seem to mark a shift in the way Facebook operates.
What do you think of Facebook’s new features?
(Washington Post Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.)