Facebook Makes Several Changes

5 years ago

Facebook changed things again last week. The change that grabbed immediate attention was the addition of a subscribe button to Facebook pages and to personal profiles.

Not long ago, Facebook added an option so that you could make your updates public or restrict them to your friends. (Sounds like Google+, doesn't it?) With the new 'public' option, Facebook pages are not just for people who have gone in and clicked Like to follow a news stream. You can subscribe to a page, even if you haven't 'liked' it, and even if the page owner isn't among your friends.

Subscribing is more like Following than Friending. (Sounds like Twitter, doesn't it?) It's less personal.

Most people build Facebook pages to promote a business or a group or a cause, so the new subscribe button may be a boon to them. There's not need to approve people who subscribe to your page, and the number of subscribers is unlimited.

Pages and individual profiles can merge, because individual Facebook account profiles can also have subscribers now. However, most people have pages set up as marketing tools, whereas profiles are more personal. Pages can have multiple administrators, as well. I have yet to be convinced of the value of merging your profile with your page.

For individual users, there's a new link under your profile photo for setting up your Subscribers options. You must opt-in to allow subscribers. If you choose to show your status updates only to your Friends, other subscribers won't receive them. But public updates will be visible to everyone who subscribes.

You may find that you're already subscribed to some of your friends. You can set up some paramaters on what you want to received from that subscription. You don't have to get every update if you don't want it.

New friends are set to automatically become subscribers unless you aren't allowing subscribers.

If you unfriend someone, they are still able to subscribe to your public updates. The good side of this is that people like teachers can make public statements their students can see, without letting the students friend them. This could be a benefit for family members as well. The bad side is that anyone can see your public updates, friend or not. Any subscriber can comment on your public updates - a potentially good or bad feature, depending.

There are a couple of smaller changes to Facebook. A new feature is Smart Lists. You can star certain people to declare them Close Friends. That puts them on your Close Friends smart list. You can choose to share updates only with them.

There's now a View All Shares link for your updates. You can see how many people shared your updates and who they are.

What do you think about the Subscribe button, in particular? Will it be a good choice for you? Have you already opted in?

Virginia DeBolt, BlogHer Section Editor for Tech
Virginia blogs at Web Teacher and First 50 Words.

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