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Facebook: Subscribe (Stalk?)

Curious how things change and yet stay the same.


According to Facebook the Subscribe feature is just a natural extension of a ‘hidden’ feature that was already there. But are Facebook making the service too complicated to understand, let alone manage?
Old(er) Facebook
Previously on Facebook we had Friends and we had Likes and we had Pages. We accepted that we would see a reasonable number of updates from our Friends, we would see follow-ups to our Likes and status updates from our Pages.
And all was well with the world!
New(er) Facebook
Firstly, there is no way of getting back to that behaviour. Sorry.


Now we have Subscriptions. We still have Friends, Likes and Pages but we can Subscribe to then too! Difference? None. According to Facebook the Subscribe feature was the behaviour that published items into your timeline. But now you have more control. Plus the extra bonus that you can Subscribe to non-Friends! So, you can receive their random updates too!
Your Account
Firstly, for non-Friends to do this you must first have activated the ‘Allow Subscribers’ feature. If you have this disabled, they (non-Friends) won’t be able to Subscribe to you.


Even if you do activate it you have some control over how that works. Plus, and this is important, only items you mark as public go onto the non-Friends feed. If you post something as ‘Friends’ or ‘Friends of Friends’ only, it isn’t in the public feed.
Unless you are using your account as a publicity engine this feature is really best left disabled.
Missing Feature
One thing that becomes obvious quickly is that their is no mechanism in Facebook to prevent Friends fro Subscribing to your feed. The reason for this is because it is the default behaviour of the old system anyway. There is no change here, honest, it is just more ‘in your face’. [sic]
Controlling what you see
Facebook have added another control page (yep, another) to facilitate changes to Subscriptions and such, called (drum roll…) Subscriptions.
Here you’ll find the ‘Allow Subscriptions’ option discussed above but also wht you personally are Subscribed to. Two sections ‘Public’ and ‘Friend’.
Subscribe to a Page or such and that is a Public Subscription, the stuff you aren’t Friends with :-).


Friends is obvious.


For each Subscription you can control both What you see and How Often.
Hover over the ‘Subscribed’ button and a whole gamut of options are there.
I’d recommend some finesse is required with these and everyone will require slightly different tweaks. However perhaps ‘Most Updates’ and every ‘type’ would be a good setting for your close friends. The rest is up to you.


Conclusion
Change is rarely met well. The number of status updates that request friends to Unsubscribe show that there is nervousness around the new features. That and the (my opinion) awful changes to the interface in general have simply got people’s backs up.
I don’t think, having watched for a few days, that the new default options expose any more information. Play with the ‘Allow Subscriptions’ and things are very different.
If you Unsubscribe from a friend then you’ll need to go to their wall to see what’s going on.
Personally, I’ll be leaving everything just where it is.
For now.
Future
Facebook are working on some new features around this. One worrying potential feature is that the owner of a Page might be able to upgrade a Like to a Subscription. Don’t like the sound of that.
References:
Facebook
Facebook Subscription Help
Facebook Subscription FAQ
Facebook Guide to Subscriptions PDF

– Posted using BlogPress

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About harlekwinblog

"Thoughts of an idle mind." Information Security professional.

Discussion

One thought on “Facebook: Subscribe (Stalk?)

  1. Thats a pretty good summary 🙂 The problem with Facebook is that the people in charge of the company seem hellbent on deciding for us what is important to us. It’s like they are desperately trying to stay “relevant” and “ahead of the curve” but instead just look like a bunch of jumped up know-it-all students.

    Oh wait…..

    So while I actually didnt get caught up in the whole “the world is going to end because subscribe will share your innermost secrets (that you splashed all over facebook) – I am really annoyed that FB is currently pretty unusable.

    And I just hope that as BetterFacebook gets to grips with the new code – there will actually be a way to step back to the previous interface – and I can see what I want to see – not what Mark Zukerberg thinks is important.

    Hxx

    Posted by Avalon | 2011/09/24, 10:02 pm

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