Facebook Subscribe takes aim at Twitter

Facebook has launched a new Subscribe system that gives access to people’s public feeds, just like Twitter’s “Follow” feature.

Facebook Subscribe takes aim at Twitter

The company made the announcement alonside changes to settings for filtering content from individuals, but the main event was the ability to follow Facebook users without being Friends.

“Until now, you couldn’t hear directly from people you’re interested in but don’t know personally – like journalists, artists and political figures,” the company said in a blog post. “With the Subscribe button, we’re making it easier to do that.”

According to Facebook, anyone can sign up to allow subscribers to see their musings, but the company has made the feature opt-in to protect privacy.

Maybe you don’t want to see every time your brother plays a game on Facebook

“If you’d like to share your public updates with more than just friends, you can get a Subscribe button on your profile, too,” the company said. “People who subscribe to you will get posts you set as ‘Public’ in their News Feeds – you need to opt in.”

The company made no mention of Twitter, but the fast growing site’s ability to retain users with rolling and relevant feeds has been perceived as a threat to Facebook.

Facebook said other changes to update controls would allow users to filter out rafts of irrelevant posts from friends that can clog a news feed with notices of gaming exploits.

“Maybe you don’t want to see every time your brother plays a game on Facebook,” the company said.

“Or maybe you’d like to see more stories from your best friends, and fewer from your co-workers. You can also decide what types of updates you see. For example, you could see just photos from one friend, no stories about games from another, and nothing at all from someone else.”

According to Facebook, the feature will begin to appear over the coming days in an incremental rollout.

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