Facebook yesterday launched a new feature that allows users to subscribe to non-friends’ public updates, as well as customize the updates of current friends they want displaying on their news feeds. The profiles will now display the number of people subscribed to it and the number of subscriptions that person has, similar to the Twitter profiles.
On Tuesday Facebook announced the Friends List application update which now automatically puts friends into specific groups—family, work, school, city—though the members of each group can see who else is in it. This is in line with the Google Plus circles, where users can automatically put new connections into a specific circle, however the members of each circle remain private to others.
Though these actions appear to be reactive to the threats presented by its competitors (I use this term loosely) Twitter and Google Plus, the updates are in line with its users activities. According to Interpret’s New Media Measure™, 34% of active Facebook users keep up with friends’ activities by watching a feed or status update and 23% view photos or videos of people other than their friends.
While I am worried about how my current friends lists will be affected and who might decide to subscribe to my page, the new updates are ones that in the end could benefit the user experience. That is, once they become less complex and their impacts on privacy are better understood/more transparent. How do you think consumers will respond to these subscriptions? Will you subscribe to non-friends?