Thursday, September 15, 2011

Poke ‘em or Stalk ‘em? Facebook’s New Subscribe Feature.

Don’t know about you, but my head is getting dizzy from all the recent changes to Facebook. And they’ve all happened not long after the launch of Google+. Hmmm…

The very first blog post I wrote for this blog was an essay on the fine art of poking. Those were the days of innocence. We tenderly gave each reminders that “we’re still out there” or perhaps "HEY YOU!". Heck, I still get poked liked crazy, and I continue to return them.

But time has marched on. Now Facebook has added another feature that yet again follows what Google+ is doing. And Twitter too this time.’s a subscription service!

What does this mean for you? Well, if you need to know the precise moment Kirstie Alley lost another pound or where Kim Kardashian is strutting in her bikini today, or perhaps the results of Sarah Palin’s latest shooting spree, now it’s easier than ever. You don’t have to go to their Facebook pages (assuming they HAVE these; I’m not checking); now you can have everything they’re posting come directly to your news feed by simply subscribing to them. From what I understand, this appears to bypass the “like” feature. But then it ceases to become social, if you’re not participating on their page and just reading feed, no?

When subscribing, there are options. All updates, of course are available, however, you can filter down to what type of updates you are interested in. Skip the games? Just see updates with photos? These are just two of the options.
You’ll also see suggestions on the right side of the screen “people to subscribe to”.

Here's what it looks like
Well great, now I can keep my baby blues on the pulse of my favorite celebrities and politicians, much like following them on Twitter. But wait, it gets creepier. Suppose I’m not friends with an “old flame”? Simply go to his/her profile page and on the upper right, there are options: Message, Add Friend or Subscribe. Nope, you don’t have to be friends with someone to subscribe. Sounds like stalking to me!

It could be stalking. However, there is some good news. Subscribe  encompasses only those posts that are deemed PUBLIC. If you’re set to “friends only”, for example, someone who is not friends with you will not be able to see your posts. In addition, Facebook has built in a lot of flexibility here. If you don’t want to participate in this new feature, you don’t have to! 

Thankfully, it’s a feature that you need to OPT IN to.

The subscribe service is rolling out right now; if you haven’t spotted it yet, you soon will. If you’re mostly private like me, remember that you can shut this feature off. I’ll be doing just that. In the meantime, I’ll welcome a friendly poke from anyone.

For more recent news on changes to Facebook, click here

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