Facebook is testing a new feature that allows any user to “subscribe to” another user. What with having hundreds of friends, multiple news feeds and only so many hours in the day, you might miss out on what your ex-girlfriend is doing these days–and that will not stand!
The “subscribe to” feature gives you notifications whenever someone to whom you’ve subscribed takes action on Facebook, from status updates to photo uploads to wall comments. The new feature doesn’t seem to extend as far as Facebook Places check-ins–Facebook says it only applies to updated statuses and new content. Here’s their statement:
Yes, this feature is being tested with a small percent of users. It
lets people subscribe to friends and pages to receive notifications
whenever the person they’ve subscribed to updates their status or posts
new content (photos, videos, links, or notes).
AllFacebook notes that while this is sort of creepy for individuals, it could be used to great (and less weird) effect with public pages (eds. note: Please stalk Fast Company on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/FastCompany). Imagine following a band, and never missing when that band sends out a Facebook message with new tour dates. You could see how business and other groups would find the feature pretty useful, especially since it distills the true fans from the casual ones who join every page.
In the wake of pretty much continuous privacy scandals, it’s unclear how Facebook will make this feature seem palatable. It doesn’t exactly allow anything that wasn’t possible before, but it makes obsession much easier. Perhaps Facebook would implement a way for users to approve subscribers?
In any case, the feature is merely being tested now, and may or may not ever be implemented for the general public. How do you all feel? Is this a valuable new tool, or a step over the line into creepiness?