Facebook Subscribe takes on Twitter, filters your friends

A new Subscribe button on Facebook lets you follow people's updates without being friends with them, and filter the kinds of updates you see.

Facebook is adding a new 'Subscribe' button, that will let you see status updates from people you're not friends with, just like Twitter, or filter the kind of status updates you see from your friends.

Filter out Farmville

Let's say, hypothetically, that some of your friends are driving you up the wall with endless updates about the games they're playing on Facebook, or posting endless photos of their babies wearing different outfits. The Subscribe button eliminates such woes.

Head on over to the offending friend's Facebook page, and click the 'Subscribe' button. From here you can tinker with a list of options, choosing whether to have everything your friend posts appearing in your news stream, or to have most of what they post turn up in your feed, or to only get really important updates, like a new job or moving house.

You can also choose which kinds of updates from that friend make it into your feed, so you can stop one friend's photos from showing up in your feed, or stop game-related updates from another. Nifty.

Taking on Twitter

The Subscribe button lets you get people's status updates in your news feed, even if they're not your Facebook friend. That could be useful for following updates from celebrity figures or bloggers who you're interested in hearing from, but who wouldn't accept a friend request to let you see their whole profile.

If you think the world is crying out to hear your opinions, you can put a Subscribe button on your own profile. If you then set a post to 'public', everyone who Subscribes to you will get that post showing up in their news feeds.

It's a bit like Twitter then, except not everything you share is public -- only the posts you want your non-friend subscribers to see. So you could set your musings on the state of the world economy to public, then go back to spamming your actual friends with videos of you learning to play the bassoon.

We'd be surprised if the Subscribe button topples Twitter, because the 140-character micro-blogging service is already well established, with a loyal following. That said, there are many millions more people using Facebook, so Zuckerberg and pals could win out through strength of numbers.

The Subscribe button will be popping up on profiles over the next few days. Are you keen on new Facebook services? Or has the whole website become way too complicated? Sound off in the comments, or in our own corner of Facebook, the CNET UK Facebook fan page.

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About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

 

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