If there’s one thing consistent about Facebook, it’s change. And every change has people clamoring about, panting, and sweating. The experts rush to explain it, screaming phrases like “game changer” and “major, major change!” Average users who pay attention start to panic, wondering how deeply Facebook is allowing people to invade their privacy.
And the rest of the kajillions of Facebook users continue blissfully along, possibly noticing the change, using it if it helps them, ignoring it if it doesn’t.
In times like these it’s appropriate to remind folks of on of the main tenets of Selective Social Media – share selectively. That part hasn’t changed, and sticking to that practice will help you weather the inevitable changes in social media platforms, whether you really understand them or not.
So, what’s the current Facebook fuss? It’s the new option that gives users the option to let people subscribe (via the ‘Subscribe’ button) to your personal profile updates without the bilaterally approved ‘friend’ relationship. TechCrunch describes it well:
Here’s how it works. As you browse around the site, you’ll notice that some users have a button at the top of their profile that says ‘Subscribe’. Click it, and you’ll start seeing that user’s status updates in your News Feed, just as if you were their Facebook friend. But there’s a big difference: unlike normal Facebook friends, the people you subscribe to don’t have to approve your subscription request, and there’s no limit on how many people can subscribe to any given user.
This new update doesn’t automatically share anything that you’re not sharing already, but if you’d like to let people read your Facebook updates without having to ‘friend’ them, this option is for you. The person this feature may be ideal for is a celebrity, politician, or otherwise public figure who would rather share as a profile than a page.
If you want to let people subscribe to you, you must first allow subscribers (currently via the subscriptions icon in the upper left column on the profile page. Once enabled, random people click on a subscribe button on your profile to follow your updates. Facebook says subscribers can see only the things you share publicly, that is, the posts that use the public privacy setting. That’s the same stuff the non-friend public could always see, only now they have the option to subscribe to that content and see your public updates in their News Feed.
So should I enable that devilish Subscribe button on my profile?
If you generally use the ‘everyone’ setting for your updates, then this is no big deal. You’re already making that content visible to non-friends, and allowing them to subscribe just sends this same information to their newsfeed. If this level of sharing is your objective, you may want to consider using a page rather that your profile for engaging the public community. On the other hand, if you prefer to keep the lid on your profile, only sharing updates with people you know personally, there’s no reason to enable that button.