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Facebook Subscribe; Yea Or Nay?

Posted by on Oct 6, 2011

by now most of you that are on Facebook have probably seen your version of the image you see in this post asking you if you want to allow people to subscribe to things you have to say there or not. It’s kind of a strange thing because I’m trying to figure out why anyone would want to subscribe to the different things some of us have to say. But it turned out to be a bigger issue than I initially thought.

One of the major issues I’ve always had when it comes to Facebook is that little news stream they have there. You basically always had two options. The first option was Facebook automatically making the determination as to what it considered newsworthy from all of the people you’re connected with and giving you that stuff from the newest of the oldest. The second option was your being able to click telling it you wanted everything that anyone you followed posted on Facebook, once again from the newest to the oldest.

Neither option has ever been all that good. I don’t think anybody ever liked the fact that Facebook was going to try to tell them what was news for people they were connected with. At the same time the other option might never allow you to see certain posts and certain people if you happen not to be on Facebook at the same time. Because I keep such strange hours I missed a lot of things that people I knew were saying. A couple of times what was really news wasn’t ever shared with me and if some people hadn’t been paying attention to other things I said I’d never found out about it; that just doesn’t cut it.

So Facebook came up with the subscribe thing. What it allows people to do is go through their list and decide who they want to make sure they see whatever it is they have to post. That means if you’re following 500 people but you really only want to see what 15 of them have to say you can select those 15 without anybody else knowing that you’re not following them as closely. Also, those 15 people don’t know that you’re following them unless you tell them. The problem with that is that now Facebook is open it up so that a person can follow anybody they see fit the following without that person knowing they’re being followed.

For most of us that’s not going to pose a problem, but for some people it is. For instance, how many women are suddenly going to be followed by stalkers who don’t have to go through the game of asking someone to “friend” them, thus giving them the option to block somebody? Facebook doesn’t take this into consideration; instead, what they’re trying to do is get around the limit that they created of how many people someone is allowed to have as a friend with this new option of being able to follow a stream and comment on it. This means that it will be easier for some of these people to follow celebrities, who probably created Facebook accounts only to communicate with their friends, and now suddenly has to worry once again about what they say on Facebook because they never know who’s listening.

Frankly that’s scary. Personally I don’t see this going to affect me that much, but I don’t always bring these things up because I’m worried about how they’re going to affect me. Still, I wonder if I’m being selfish to those friends of mine who want to keep up with me and block some of the noise of all these other people they’re connected with that they don’t know us well. It’s a double edged sword of the little modicum of control that one has with their Facebook account. While I would love to have my friends have the ability to add me to their list, I love the had the ability to know who’s following me and us block certain people if I needed to do so. It’s possible that there, but I haven’t read anywhere that it’s an option.

Luckily, Facebook hasn’t made me have to make a decision yet. So every time I pop on to Facebook I immediately see the image you see above. I get ignored for a while, but I know based on history that at some point I’m going to have to make a decision or they’re going to make it for me, and we both know the decision they’re going to make. But I’m just not sure which direction I want to go yet.

For those of you that are on Facebook, since it makes no sense to ask someone who’s not on Facebook their opinion, what do you think? What have you done? I’d really like to know, and thanks upfront for your response.
 

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31 Comments »

I am just PUBLIC- and await responses to my idea explosions.

October 6th, 2011 | 11:14 PM

Hey Kate! I haven’t made any changes yet, so I still see that sucker popping up every time I sign on. I really don’t know what to do or how I feel about it, but I figure I’m going to have to resolve it soon.

October 7th, 2011 | 4:40 PM

Hi Mitch,

I just want to you to attention here about Facebook Subscription to clarify you.

When you subscribe someone(A) that person(A) can see that you’ve subscribed him/her. For example see here (Mark Zuckerberg) profile https://www.facebook.com/zuck

It clearly showing how many people have subscribed him and how many people he has subscribed. So it’s not hidden at all.
Aaron recently posted…Goa Carnival 2012My Profile

October 7th, 2011 | 6:13 AM

Thanks for that Aaron. I wasn’t sure based on what I’d read that you’d know if someone was following you. Can you block someone if they’ve subscribed to you?

October 7th, 2011 | 4:41 PM

You’ve a option where you can disallow people (other than your friends) to subscribe your updates. This way you can “make sure” that unknown people won’t get your any updates.
Aaron recently posted…Goa Carnival 2012My Profile

October 8th, 2011 | 1:05 AM

That’s interesting stuff Aaron. Can you do it after the fact if you find someone following that creeps you out?

October 8th, 2011 | 7:46 AM

Yes, You can do that later on as well. there is no problem.
Aaron recently posted…Goa Carnival 2012My Profile

October 14th, 2011 | 2:28 AM

I’ve read few post on the similar topic and what I found is that everybody is wondering what exactly this subscribe will lead to. I guess most users have answered allow subscribe. I personally think it is strange and not very useful idea.

October 7th, 2011 | 6:32 AM

Carl, it’s definitely an interesting idea but I’m not sure yet either. Found out this weekend that there are a lot of health care people that seem to know who I am and say they read stuff I write; that was intriguing. So I could have lots of folks I don’t know wanting to subscribe; not bad, but, well, I don’t always talk business stuff on Facebook.

October 7th, 2011 | 4:43 PM

I believe that Facebook is trying to filter data, similar to Google Plus and sharing data feed will be available to different groups.
Carl recently posted…Do you do Business Planning or Shoot from the Hip – The arguments for and againstMy Profile

October 8th, 2011 | 4:42 AM

That’s possible Carl; I never even considered that possibility.

October 8th, 2011 | 7:51 AM

I quite like the concept of being able to unsubscribe from people. So you can still be ‘friends’ but don’t need to see every update.

However I’m not sure why people would want to subscribe to a non-friend. It doesn’t really make sense, and seems to be mainly an exact copy of Twitter with no real thought as to why or how to make it better.

October 7th, 2011 | 9:30 AM

Mike, I hadn’t really thought much about the unsubscribe part either. I wonder how it works if that person send you a direct message or commented on your wall.

October 7th, 2011 | 4:43 PM

I say… don’t use Facebook! 😀
Jason recently posted…Kinesis Advantage Keyboard ReviewMy Profile

October 7th, 2011 | 10:40 AM

Hey Mitch,

I am not approving the subscribe option on my profile. For some of the reasons you mentioned, and although I have absolutely nothing to hide, I don’t want every single human being on Facebook to see what I post. That’s why they have friends lists and I continue to dwindle mine down for a reason.

I can see where it might help people who are on Facebook mostly for business reasons or like you mentioned, celebrities who are over their 5000 friend limit. That way, anyone who subscribes can still see what they post on their wall.

Once you’ve hit the approve option though there is no turning back. It’s done and you can’t undo it or at least not yet. For now, I’m sticking with how my profile is already set up and I’m not interesting in the entire world
seeing my wall.

That’s my two cents worth for now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

~Adrienne
Adrienne recently posted…The Loss of A LegendMy Profile

October 7th, 2011 | 3:16 PM

Thanks for your input Adrienne. I wasn’t sure if you could turn it off, but based on the way they ask the question it certainly didn’t appear like you could change your mind if you agreed to it. Of course, I’m expecting that 3 months down the line it’ll become mandatory for those of us who haven’t signed up for it yet; that seems to be the way they do things.

October 7th, 2011 | 4:50 PM
Allan Douglas:

As near as I can figure – and your explanation seems to confirm this – the Subscribe thing is for people who want to see what you’re saying without being your friend… sort of like stalking. 🙂

October 7th, 2011 | 6:20 PM

Thanks Allan. Like others have said, I’m not sure why anyone would want to do that unless they have more than 5,000 connections.

October 7th, 2011 | 7:13 PM

I’ll probably delete my facebook account in the near future, or at the most leave it the way it is now. I already use it once every few days so I’m not gonna miss it in the first place.
I’m gonna move to G+, I already switched to everything Google so why not have just 1 account for everything I need?

I remember back in 2004 or so, everyone in my country was crazy over Hi5, after a couple of mounts around I decided it was pure crap and deleted my account. Six years later, nobody uses Hi5 anymore, they all use Facebook…
Cristian Balau recently posted…Did you hear how that "smart grid" is working out in UK?My Profile

October 7th, 2011 | 7:34 PM

Cristian, I’m not a big user of Facebook compared to many other people. I have lots of connections but don’t talk to anyone all that much. I have a business page but can’t get a lot of people to talk there. I play a couple of games and that’s my biggest enjoyment there. Still, I can’t see myself deleting an account. Not going as often possibly, but deletion… heck, I haven’t deleted my Ryze page. lol

October 7th, 2011 | 8:24 PM
John Dilbeck:

Hi Mitch,

I rather like the subscribe option.

Most of what I write on Facebook is for the public, so it doesn’t really matter to me if people who are not “friends” read it. I think of it more like blogging than anything else.

I subscribe to several people with whom I am not friends. For example, Robert Scoble. I don’t know him, he doesn’t know me, so we’re obviously not friends. However, I do want to know about everything he writes.

I’ve also subscribed to a couple of other industry notables whose writings I want to read.

I have no illusion that we’ll ever be friends, nor that they’ll read what I write. Subscribing feels more honest than trying to convince myself — and them — that we’re “friends.”

(Short comment. I can do it!)

😉

JD
John Dilbeck recently posted…Dan Kennedy GameChanger DNA – Last DayMy Profile

October 7th, 2011 | 8:08 PM

John, I figure I follow a couple of people on Twitter because that’s how it was set up. I’m not sure I like all this “cross-pollination” between sites that all had different purposes, yet how introduce what another site has. Frankly it’s kind of cumbersome, and from my perspective it seems to diminish the fun more than enhance it.

But that’s just me, I know. Most folks love the ability to do it all on one site, then go to another site and do it all again. Guess I’m just behind the times.

October 7th, 2011 | 8:26 PM
Melony:

Hey Mitch,

I haven’t logged into my Facebook in a while so I’m just now learning about this subscribe thing Facebook has came up with. I agree with you that this concept is kind of scary for the simple fact that you never know who is reading what you have to say on Facebook.

I don’t think I will be approving the subscribe option because I would not be comfortable allowing any and everybody seeing everything I post on my wall.

I think I will keep everything I post between me and my family and friends I currently have on FB. Thanks for sharing Mitch, I’m off to Facebook now to check this out for myself.
Melony recently posted…The Real Causes of Recurring Yeast Infections & Treatments To Stop ThemMy Profile

October 7th, 2011 | 10:28 PM

Glad to help alert you to something new Melony. Facebook changes come so fast these days that it’s hard to keep up, then you have to think about stuff.

October 7th, 2011 | 10:51 PM
edravencio:

I don’t have to click on it. I don’t just like anybody visit my wall without my permission and beside I chose who among my friends and family can browse it.

October 8th, 2011 | 12:42 AM

As I understand it, the subscribe option is opt in, so the regular person probably shouldn’t allow people to subscribe to their stream. At least that should make it a bit harder for stalkers. However, I think for the public figure it’s one more option to allow the general public to follow them.
Richard recently posted…Steve Jobs Tribute 1955-2011My Profile

October 9th, 2011 | 9:16 PM

You could be right Richard. You know, there’s the possibility of people who know each other well making sure they see each other’s posts, in which case it might be fine. But one just doesn’t really know. Then again, today I went to Facebook and I’m not being asked anymore; not quite sure what that means.

October 11th, 2011 | 1:36 AM

Hi Mitch. I agree with you. But at another side, maybe it’s a good thing for Facebook creating that subscribe feature. We can be subscribed to some “important” accounts without having any problem to add them as our friends. Anyway, isn’t there any way to set the subscribe feature, that it’s only can be done by some people that we already accepted?
Andrew Walker recently posted…New Best Western Vega Hotel & Convention Centre in MoscowMy Profile

October 10th, 2011 | 3:14 AM

I don’t know Andrew; guess at some point I’m going to have to look deeper into it.

October 11th, 2011 | 1:36 AM

I, too, was kind of worried about the subscription option on FB. As much as I love FB, I would really also love for them to have an option for someone to not let anyone or a certain person to subscribe to his feeds. 🙂

October 10th, 2011 | 9:14 AM

Someone said they had that here Emilia; guess we’ll know soon enough.

October 11th, 2011 | 1:38 AM