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Facebook just announced a new following model. Now you can follow me at http://facebook.com/robertscoble (or you will be able to get there shortly).

Mashable's +Ben Parr has the details. This is HUGE shift for Facebook.

http://mashable.com/2011/09/14/facebook-subscribe-button/

So does Next Web: http://thenextweb.com/facebook/2011/09/14/facebook-unveils-3-feature-plan-to-eliminate-your-desire-for-any-other-social-network/

Like I said, Google and Facebook are in a war over our identities. Who loses?

Every other social company.

Who wins? We do.

What do you think?

I'm so over the top about these new features you can't even imagine. My REAL social graph is on Facebook, not on Twitter or Google+.

+Vic Gundotra your turn, when are you going to ship something major? i.e., when are we gonna get content discovery? People discovery? Search/filtering/noise controls? A better notification stream?

Facebook is bringing a lot more in two weeks at its F8 conference too.

I love this fight. Makes the industry entertaining again.

More discussion on Techmeme: http://www.techmeme.com/110914/p28#a110914p28

The full Facebook blog on these changes are here: https://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=10150280039742131

You enable this feature here: http://www.facebook.com/about/subscriptions
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139 comments
 
Can't say I didn't see that coming. 
 
Like I been saying for years: "Facebook - Copying and pasting since 2005"
 
wow! it's amazing that they seem tobe converging on the same set of features
 
honestly Scoble posting bandwidth issues are enough here, +Robert Scoble No need to double that up there as well. ;) one place is fine with me and g+ is the place.
 
Get a life Facebook! Come with novel ideas now for crying out loud.
 
Facebook always rolls out features trying to keep up, the problem is they always seem to half-ass it.
 
interesting.... I wonder if the big FB is scared of G+ and it's ability to add followers not just "friends"
 
Absolutely massive - just a week after their new privacy controls. Google+ has them scared - and impressively so. I agree, we're the winners no matter what happens. This is what happens when you introduce competition.
 
"It provides yet another layer of complexity on top of an already complex product." That's a key point. I cannot be bothered to figure out what's going where and who's seeing what, since I'm already entrenched in my way of using Facebook.
 
This violates the basic principles for why I use FB. It's about being a closed circle. I don't want to have to worry about who's seeing my updates.
 
Yay - I Will NEVER Go Back
But very cool for Facebook and its users.
 
Interesting... that means no need for fan pages if you are creating a personal brand...

thanks for sharing love ;-))
 
no more fake facebook accounts? that WILL reduce their user base. . . by more than half
 
the feature just adds to the whole idea of "facebook stalking" to a whole other level
 
No such button here either. I like the idea, though. Good that FB copies G+!
 
+Mylinda Montroy That's another problem - they're negating those celeb pages that many people already have set up, or at least muddling things between personal and "personal brand" pages.
 
+Yamini Gupta It's still private for the people who want to be private - but I bet most are posting publicly (unwittingly, perhaps) by now.
 
+Robert Scoble Didnt facebook already have this feature? I seem to remember stalking i mean subscribing to my friends statuses by text message alert. It was great, when it worked, because i didnt have to visit each page, everyday to know what was going on
 
"“Facebook has always been working on giving users more control,” said Facebook Product Manager Naomi Gleit." FB giving users more control????? Horse hockey!
 
Love that Facebook is stealing features from G+ :) Makes me love G+ even more.
 
This is cool...but it seems that Facebook is deviating from it's "a place for friends" mission. It seemed their niche was not having "follow" etc.

It might be the wrong move because users don't look for that from Facebook. Example: "why do I need a boat car? Sure that's cool, but I really just need an awesome car. Stop making it a great boat and make me a better car!"

Or maybe Swiss army knives versus one good knife is a better example.

I'm typing out lout here as I consider this move by Facebook
 
I think I have enough of you here. Thanks.
 
I just noticed that the "request friendship" button (dont recall the previous text) is now labeled "+1 add friend" :D
 
If G+ doesn't keep innovating then they will see defectors in droves. I want G+ to win but FB is putting up a better fight right now. Please innovate G+, I don't want to go back to FB.
 
Um. How many folks on FB even HAVE any "public" updates? I know I don't, nor do any of the people I know. This will get as much use as friends lists did on there. (I was the ONLY person I know who used that feature, to weed out former classmates and coworkers from people actually in my life.)

But as others have said, Google+ has GOT to up the ante SOON, if they want to really go "mainstream."
 
+Robert Scoble i've seem MANY complain that they didnt want to be on Plus cause they didnt want to be followed by ppl they didnt know... OH THE IRONY lol
 
I don't hate Facebook, I love Google. But every time they copy something (Which in essence is fine) it's such a big hit because of the .75 billion viewers.

The only complaint I have is that they've always been aggressive towards the public, giving and taking what they want, and now that GPlus entered the ring, they're throwing gift baskets at everyone doorstep. Weak, effective but weak.
 
+Robert Scoble Completely agree that social has again becoming interesting.

Before Plus we had stagnated in a horrible status quo with Facebook and Twitter holding all the cards and no real reason to innovate.

Now, even if Plus doesn't do as well as we hope it does, its existence is threat enough and the competition must develop a deterrent.

I keep saying it: Facebook doesn't need to kill G+ or any other service, it just needs to ensure it does enough to retain its users.
 
On first look - not too impressed.
Seems you can only pick to get some, all or important updates from friends.
But again - facebook is making the decisions about what fits in those baskets.

In any event it just shows that competition is good.
But the competition from G+ has not even started yet I think.
 
Good call, I didn't think Twitter. I didn't think them, because I don't consider them on the same playing field as G+ or FB. As everyone else has said. I'm excited to see where this goes. More competition only means bigger and better things for the consumer!
 
+Robert Scoble Oh, i see what you mean. This is pretty awesome. I wonder if Google will counter with something better :D.. This competition is very interesting to watch .
 
I don't understand the FB haters. Or those crying 'copycat'. I'm glad that they are adding features that are useful even if they already exist on a different social network. It's like crying foul when competing car companies include the same tech/feature in their cars. Pointless.
 
Interesting, however, I rarely ever use public posts on FB. If someone wants to see my public facing stuff I usually point them to Twitter.
 
+Robert Scoble Awesome, Ill be the young guy who isnt a Millionare.... relatively easy to pick out in that crowd.
 
+Fernando Miguel +Ben Werdmuller I guess that's exactly it - I used to think FB is SIMPLE. no need to sort my friends into list, no need to worry about how to post, who'll see it yada-yada. This is going to force me to go and check my privacy settings, make sure it stays a closed group for me. And that's just not something I'm looking forward to doing.
 
Also, Plus can't hide behind the beta tag for much longer. It needs functionality now or it will left behind; deemed a valiant effort but, ultimately, another Google social failure.

Admittedly, Plus isn't just about the Stream but until we see more integration (like the new snippets in Maps) the Stream is all anyone sees.
 
I am about ready to give up and get a Facebook account. That's bad.
 
+Robert Scoble This is a great new feature and almost totally eliminates the need for Fan pages. Old habits die hard though, so when I went to your page, I just added you as a friend.
 
+Yamini Gupta wut??? the 1st thing i did there was create lists. while adding ppl i set them to each of them
then created a reading and a posting lists.
that's what i read and to where almost all posts go.

just like i did on Plus
 
Yet another social endpoint to suck life out of my real life, yay..
 
for (;;);{"__ar":1,"payload":null,"onload":["setCookie(\"W\", \"1316020940\", 2000);"]}

Theres the payload to follow someone on facebook.


Interesting content in the cookie:


presence
EM316020936L194N1Ac1_5dEp_5f695540636F58X316021040104Y0OQ0EsF0CEblFDacF70G316020858PCC

Hmm, that means if i get the profile# of a person, i can create an app and add them to a follow list similar to google+
 
"This is a great new feature and almost totally eliminates the need for Fan pages."
Very interesting point +John Sealander.
 
Huh, I only saw it on +Robert Scoble page, not on any other friend I haven't "friended" on facebook. Do you need to turn on the feature or something first?
 
I'm curious how this will affect fan pages. I decided to create a fan page a while ago in order to allow people I don't know to communicate with me; I like to keep my 'friends list' for friends. This kind of destroys that model though and it would be nice if they added a feature to import people from the 'fan' page to the subscription. If the subscription essentially replaces that feature, there should be a way to move people over instead of loosing them. Personally, I prefer a separate page though; that way I don't have to think "is what I just posted public?" or not.
 
+Robert Scoble Interesting. Though, I have to admit I don't originate a lot of stuff right on Facebook. My longer form stuff has been starting here on G+ (or somewhat still on my blog) with a link to it posted to FB and my status updates originate from Twitter.
 
I admire Facebook's efforts to keep pace with these types of features, but it seems they miss a larger point. Every new feature they add (including this Subscribe button idea) is buried under a multi-step process. The average consumer/user is not going to jump through a lot of hoops on Facebook to make use of Smartlists.

I also predict an outcry from the general Facebook populace because this represents a significant change in how Facebook works. Suddenly, everything you post is public...unless of course you are willing to follow the bread crumbs to turn off the Subscribe button's default status. Grandma and my great aunt Susan will not take the time to do this, but they will end up joining 2,500 different "Change Facebook Back to the Way I Like It" groups and send me countless invitations to do so, along with status updates expressing outrage yet again.

I'm not saying it's a bad feature for Facebook, but I do think that it reflects their overall schizophrenia on sharing and privacy. They built a network with the reputation and consumer culture of a walled garden. But, every new tool they add is designed to chip away at the wall whether the customers want it chipped at or not.

I'm curious to watch how this all plays out.
 
+Robert Scoble, I think its a very cool feature to follow people like you or me :) but, how about people that post personal information or things like that, everyone will see it? This new facebook's move is like a backfire!
 
+Robert Scoble were you prompted to turn the subscribe button on? I just saw it live on your profile and subscribed he! :)
 
Is subscribing a form of stalking?
 
+L. Gray Facebook wasn't built with Circles/Privacy in mind -- they are catching up to Google+. Also, privacy settings change on the fly (by just using the FB app on Android all of my contacts were uploaded to FB's servers, until I turned this feature off).
 
+Jay Zalowitz You know it. Go ahead and read the news corp stuff with FB. And now we've got the states listening in on skype, ms/fb.. Before you know it, all this stuff they cry that Google is peeking in on will be the only security against what fb/ms/gov will be launching at us.

So cool, like two trillion dollar net companies fighting over the humans, FB trying to turn us into "The Island" and Google trying to free us :P

Makes you wonder if there is actually two sky nets. One good one, one bad one. Like spy vs spy kinda thing.. heh.
 
How often is it going to be useful to Subscribe to someone you're not friends with? In other words, how many Facebook status updates are viewable by the public? (I guess Facebook could always change the default...)
 
Still, facebook has done too much to damage my respect and trust in the past. Once G+ takes off, I will not go back.
 
Interesting. It's easy to forget that Google+ will probably not be the same in 5 years as it is today. The Internet facilitates all kinds of ways for people to communicate with each other and we're still discovering.

It's nice to see that we haven't yet claimed to have found the perfect combination of features because the perfect combination doesn't exist. We're all unique, so we'll have different preferences on how we communicate via bits and bytes. Those ways that we communicate will undoubtedly continue to change.
 
On Google and Twitter you can see who is following you, does Facebook offer the same?
 
+Robert Scoble It's there now Robert. I just sent a friend request and subscribed.. Oh shit now I'm in trouble.;-)
 
If only our identities were something that WE owned, rather than chips for corporations to fight over...
 
oh no, more Scoble? hahaha... I subscribed.
 
Thanks Robert for always including Vic and Bradley in your posts. We are now into the 4th month of field trial on here without any major changes. Just cosmetic small updates like ability to arrange our circles (oooh) or collapsing comments (aaah).
 
Subscribed :-) boy, it's just raining down goodies at Facebook this week!
 
I'd like to see G+ roll out something thing like this, but have separate streams, for different topics I may want to publicly post. Could we be seeing the start of an intense social media arms race? Hopefully, as it will only benefit us, the users.
 
So if you're say, a journalist, and you publish content on Facebook for a public audience your facebook friends (ie your real friends) are inundated with the content you publish for your job? I don't know that's what many content writers want. I think +Nick Bilton mentioned this on twit a couple weeks ago--his friends mostly aren't interested in what he is. He might post some of his professional stuff there, but not all of it. And will he be inundated with comments and likes from strangers, possibly notifying him by email or on his phone? And his real friends inundated with the flood of the comments a popular writer like him receives?

They're really close, but seems off the mark to me.
 
+Fernando Miguel Man, you just made me feel like a very "basic" FB user. Which hurts, 'cause I still spend about 50% of my internet time there :D
 
I think Facebook might have actually had this planned. they launched these features pretty fast.
+Mylinda Montroy This won't kill facebook pages because of the whole apps thing. Page owners get so much more control and can really add some cool interactive features with apps. But this will give more options to people who are looking for ways to use a personal brand
 
+Nathan Hart i've written a lot on that.
for me the best model would be sub-streams. we would tag posts and ppl would subscribe to one, several or the entire stream from us.
no more need to "hide" public posts in close circles so you dont bother other users....

like, i post many food pics... some of my circlees complain... seems they dont enjoy seeing others prep good food :)
 
I really want Google to respond to this. Having people be able to subscribe to my posts was one of my big draws for me to migrate to Google+. Given the large user base on Facebook, this may sway others to either migrate back to Facebook, or worse, never leave.
 
I have a feeling that these moves from FB, while blatantly copying G+ & twitter, might actually be harming it in the longer term.

A lot of people I know gave up on G+ because of 'complexity' of circles and sharing with them. They are all prolific sharers on FB where they don't have to 'select' within their 'friends' who to share with.

Most of these people are not active on twitter either, mainly because they aren't comfortable sharing in the 'open'.

With the last 2 sets of changes that FB has brought in, it has practically introduced G+'s circles framework and twitter's follow method to its legions of users.

This might bring FB upto par with G+ & Twitter in the feature race but will also help break a switching barriers that FB users were facing.

Yes, there will still be other barriers - the locked in social graph, existing network and content - but there may just be one less barrier for many FB users to give G+ & twitter another serious shot.
 
I innovate , you copy. You innovate, I copy.
I'm not sure how I win in this battle. I don't want my friends to be in 2 different places and make me use 2 social networks.
 
FB shows us information about your first degree relatives on your public profile. Typical FB style and I still don't like it.
 
I am not a FB "hater". I am very new to the FB, Twitter, Google+ scene. Yet, in my 2 - 3 months of use/observations, it seems pretty clear to me that Google+ is now the leader and FB is the follower/adapter. This is not a criticism of FB. This is an acknowledgement of the great work Google+ has done/is doing.
 
Meanwhile, Google are quietly (sort of) integrating G+ with their other products - the latest being Google Maps. The missing link at the moment is the fact that people have to sign up to G+. Once G+ is rolled out to all Google accounts the synergy will really show. It seems to me that the many people who are currently happy with FB will not be enticed away to G+ as an alternative platform; rather, once it is just there they will find themselves using it.
 
+Fernando Miguel Wow! FB must have really pissed you off! Although, I wonder what it would feel like to be on a FB diet... but really, I still dislike this new shift. +Robert Scoble , I started following you on FB but I think I might just unsubscribe. Sorry, but I like that my stream was just my friends being stupid, earlier. But, I love you on G+ :D
 
This is fb stealing g+ thunder. How is this good for users heavily invested in g+?, like you? 
 
+Yamini Gupta i never liked FB. never intended to use it. i made an account last year when i bough a new android and wanted to sync contacts, their photos and phone numbers.
but almost no one has their phone their (i count 12 + me) and 2 weeks later FB and Google grew their WallGardens and stop allowing to sync with android (was it 2.3?).
so it became useless to me, for what i intended
 
To be honest, if Facebook had this option right from the start, I wouldn't have even started my fan pages... I'd have had everything handled right through my main profile account.
So yeah, I can see this "new" feature getting used a lot... people will start to change the way they use Facebook.
 
Thanks +Robert Scoble for the news! This is HUGE! I do not want FB to become next Twitter but I do want to follow some people's updates who are not my friends so this will be useful. Would like to see if Facebook manages it well or totally goofs it up! Competition surely is very good! Also, did anyone note, that with Facebook, now you can download your data!!...There is a link called as "Download a copy of your Facebook data." in Account settings!...Don't know if it appeared today or was there from some time.
 
I gave the new feature a try. The annoying thing is that for people to see my public posts, they have to be logged into Facebook. In this regard, it's a big departure from Twitter and G+.
 
Google initially modeled G+ by combining the features of Twitter with FB. Now FB also copying the same....

I guess FB has evolved more number of times in the era after G+ came into existence than ever before that.... Lets call it FB+ :P
 
Facebook is adding features based on what competition is doing, not based on what users are asking or wanting. That's not going to take them a long way, if you are disconnected from the users. These features are only making facebook more complex and confusing to an average user.
 
+Robert Scoble as +Johnny Lee pointed out "public" posts on FB require someone signing in to view them. This means that are indexed by Google. Meanwhile, my public G+ posts are really public
 
+Kamran Hashmi - I think G+ has a fundamentally different model, with the Circles approach. If FB is trying to imitate G+ by patching features onto the old structure it will struggle. On the other hand, G+ is only half way there. It needs some form of filtering/streaming by content as well as by author.
 
I can subscribe to you; however, I can not just subscribe to anyone.
 
I support this Option...because there is lot of content in facebook feed which we dont need. That feed creates a confusion as well as Alternative methodology of thinking. This breaks the Social networks Limitation and their Goals. If this option is there, then he must know what exactly he wants. It is not foolish thing, it is their future Management of their uncontrollable information. and it helps their Ads too...
 
+L. Gray Back to my original point -- "Facebook wasn't built with Circles/Privacy". If most of the people didn't know about the FB 'circles', nor used them, that just proves my point. Also, in terms of privacy, with every new features that FB rolled out, I had to go and check whether the new privacy setting is appropriately set (they usually made the default as 'Public', so to speak). So let's not talk about not knowing how to use the Privacy settings -- I'm quite capable of figuring out at what privacy level I want to be when I'm properly informed of the new 'features' that require privacy settings.
 
I feel like FB is just trying to catch up to G+ at this point.
 
+Colin Wilding Yes, I know that; I just put up the layman's point of view on that. I think FB is already doing that and struggling to keep it stable. I experienced a few hiccups already due to new features.
I believe G+ is the ultimate social media solution but it will take time for people to switch from FB eventually :) Of course G+ needs alot to come up in order to make that happen...
 
Here! Here! +Girish Elchuri

I agree with most of what everyone has said. I'm not a fan of FB but not a hater, either.

The seemingly uselessness of Fan Pages now is another turnoff for me. For those who worked to get their viewer numbers up, it's like wasted effort. Will FB allow users to migrate/convert old followers to new subscribers?

I still prefer G+ and hope it has chance to come out on top. I find people interact on G+ a heck of a lot more than on FB. 
 
I hope that somewhere on their to-do list Google have a plan to allow comments on comments (i.e. sub-threads) as we had in Wave. It would make this comment stream easier to follow.
 
How can they be that fast in copying?

But I think they're copying the wrong products. G+ and Twitter are not services in the same category as FB.

FB is more like a "social network". Its business is on mapping the real life social relationships onto its social graph and monetizing this information (to the advertisers of course in a capitalist world, but can be to the Party as well when we arrive year 2084).

G+ is more like a social media and a personal blogging platform. Its not about your college friends or family in the first place. But that is also why it is so powerful and will be important in the future of the Internet.

Because of this major difference, FB copying&patching G+ and Twitter features has no meaning to FB users at all.
 
Does this mean Google+ is now wagging the social media tail?
 
This is a great feature but I think Fb is becoming too complex for its users, who have come to know it for connecting with friends. 
 
How does the subscribe button holds up against friending on a Facebook Business page?
 
Oh, nice, no syndication to other platforms. Wonder if that will ever happen?
 
Not sure these reactionary fixes are a long-term solution +Robert Scoble. This is deep water. Keep doing what you are doing +Vic Gundotra. Making Google+ better based on user feedback, while you implement the real power of Google. Which lies beneath :)
 
Didn't I just read an interview with Moskovitz where he bashes Google+ for being too "one-way"?
 
What I don't like about facebook is that you cannot make a page that anyone can view. Any facebook page you send someone to requires them to create a facebook account just to read. That is the one advantage a google plus page has. If Facebook ever allowed you to make a wall entry that you could allow anyone, even a non-facebook member view, google+ is totally screwed. If facebook did that, I would probably actually use facebook.

Cheers!
 
So does this mean I need to go back and make all my old posts private. I have always maintained a no coworker policy on facebook because I do not want my employer to know how I spend my free time.
 
its great that fb can iterate that fast, but I worry if its becoming a bloated service with many different taxonomies. At least, we know what we get from twitter and Google+, but Facebook seems to be shoving "features" in an effort to play catch up. Clearly, the news stream was a result of twitter competition, and now google+ has forced them to adopt not only circles but the subscription model as well. Is facebook falling behind on innovating?
 
Why would I want to follow you on Facebook when you've already said you're doing most of your social media and posting on Google+? I'll just keep following you here. :)
 
I wonder if at some point companies like Facebook and Google will start approaching the big content creators like +Robert Scoble and offering money for exclusive distribution rights?
 
+Robert Scoble Looks lke Facebook removed "subscribe feature". Neither Subscribe button nor Subscriber count appears on your FB profile too.. I subscribed to your profile updates earlier, but now there is nothing I can track.
 
Robert, you're getting everywhere! First my G+ & now my Facebook. Is there no stopping you?!

When will it end? When?!
 
Well said, Robert. The key here is that we consumers win, as the state of the art advances w/ healthy competition. But I think that most folks, unlike you, use Facebook with limited, personal social graphs and it will be hard to rewire them.
 
This is rather sad. I was starting to think that G+ will be like a new news feed reader with all techies and others posting and stuff , and facebook will continue to be a place for frnds and family. I feel that they are screwing their own product up because they are afraid of getting screwed
 
ewwww
It's so much... complexity
Having both that Add to Friends button and The Subscribe button
It's just confusing and unnecessary :/
 
facebook is really good at ripping others..they're known for it from the start..from friendfeed, friendster, myspace and now google+..facebook has nothing to share new..they are just blatantly copying others..they've overhauled there privacy settings because they're afraid..why can't they do that long time ago? just because there was no good competion that time? anyway, competition is good..but it won't do a thing for me as it won't bring me back in using facebook..it will be forever abandoned..lol..

PS: i'm not starting a petty fight as comments from those facebook fanboys won't affect me..:D
 
+Robert Scoble I just found out that I am automatically subscribed to +Mark Zuckerberg, then I asked my friends if the same happened with them - some of them said yes and some said no. Finally I figured out that I was automatically subscribed to him because I had liked his page. His page no longer exists. All its 'likers' now subscribe to his profile!
Will Facebook offer this feature to the general public, what do you think?
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