I feel like all I’ve written about the past few weeks is Facebook’s need for a new social dynamic. Specifically, I want Facebook to break their social graph into two: those people who you are friends with, and those who you follow — for sharing purposes. It seems that Facebook may be testing something like that out — well sort of, maybe.
Facebook appears to be testing out a new feature called “Subscribe.” A source who supposedly has it enabled, tells All Facebook that “by subscribing you don’t miss any updates from people you subscribe to.” While on the face of it, this would seem to be a lot like the idea of “follow” it’s not clear from that wording if you actually already need to be friends with a person in order to follow them.
In other words, this may just be another mechanism to ensure you see updates from people you really care about. But if that’s the case, this just adds more confusion to Facebook’s social graph because you can already create lists for that purpose. Though, as All Facebook points out, these update will apparently appear in the notifications drop down.
Instead, what I’m hoping is that this is a proper follow feature that allows you to see other users public updates even if you’re not subscribed to them. And vice versa, obviously. I would love to allow people to subscribe to stuff I share publicly (and have it appear in their stream), but have the option to still share stuff with my actual friends.
But still, maybe that is in the works as well. Baby steps are probably wise here for Facebook so their users don’t lose their minds and scream bloody murder — which will happen anyway.
We’ve reached out to Facebook for comment on this to try and get more clarity on the feature. They’re currently “looking into it.”
Update: Here’s Facebook’s comment:
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).
“Friends” appears to be the keyword there — as in, this is still only for people you are connected with. But I’ve asked Facebook to clarify that further just to make sure.
Update 2: As expected, Facebook has confirmed that you need to be a friend of someone (or a fan of them) in order to get these notifications. These notifications go into the tab up top and also get sent as an email to you, I’m told.
In other words, no proper “follow” just yet.