Facebook is currently testing a new subscribe feature for profiles and pages among a small group of testers. For one reason or another, I’ve been chosen as one of the profiles with this feature enabled. It works like an RSS feed for your friends’ activities. Another way to think of it is it’s a Google Alert for your Facebook friends. When enabled, users will see a new link under the picture that reads Subscribe to Amy or whoever it happens to be. When clicked, a confirmation message will read “Please confirm that you would like to be notified when Amy posts statuses, links, photos, notes, or videos.”
According to Meredith Chin in Facebook Corporate Communications
- You can only subscribe to your friends or pages you have “liked”.
- The user does not get notification of this action.
- There are no current options to require notification.
- All subscribe and unsubscribe must be done on the page or profile. There is no centralize location to manage subscriptions
Once you subscribe to a profile or page, you will receive Facebook notifications every time that person updates their profile or status. The obvious benefits are for celebrity pages and business pages. For example, a shopping deals site can create a Facebook page and allow their subscribers to get instant notifications of coupons, sales, and deals. A band can keep their fans updated on their tour schedule. You get the idea. It’s like Twitter for your Facebook friends or fans. Ken Go, owner of San Francisco’s Spa Bar was excited about the subscribe feature saying “We’d love to see it for pages. It’s something we can use to keep our clients updated on special promotions.”
Inevitably, whenever Facebook does anything, someone will complain about privacy. Some online articles have already started calling this the stalker mode. That’s only true if you are in the habit of inviting your stalkers to see your status updates and announce to them what you are doing. There is no compromise to privacy beyond what members already share with their friends. If you don’t want someone to know about your updates, defriend them and the problem is solved.
Now if you really want to see a stalker mode, Twitter introduced a feature called Fast Follow last month. It allows anyone to follow a non private Twitter account without even signing up for a Twitter account and hitting follow. Simply send an SMS message ‘Follow TwitterName’ to 40404. So if the account is @ConanOBrien, it would be ‘Follow ConanOBrien”. You would start receiving updates from Conan O’Brien via sms message.
Finally, did you know your status updates can show up on an unknown Facebook Community Pages for your friends to see? Facebook searches matching keyword and will post your updates to matching Community Pages. For example, I wrote this article about the apparent murder-suicide of mixed martial arts fighter Kenneth Trevino and Tiffanie Perry. The post showed up on this Facebook Community page as a related post by friends. You won’t be able to see it unless you are one of my Facebook friends and this action is no different than the update posting to all the wall pages in my friends profiles. Again, only your friends will see that post when they visit that community page. A stranger will see updates from their own friends if they had a keyword match on that page.