You might be hearing a lot about Facebook’s new “Subscribe” button, so we want to help explain what this new feature is and what it could mean for your kids. The original Facebook friendships that you’re probably more familiar with are mutual, meaning you friend someone and they accept your friendship request or vice versa. However, the Subscribe feature allows users to “subscribe” to or follow other people (more similar to Twitter and Google+), offering asymmetrical “friendships” whereby one user follows another but it isn’t necessarily mutual. The other reason this is different from the standard Facebook friendship is that users don’t have the option of approving a subscription request, and there is no limit on how many people can subscribe to a specific user.
Subscribing to another user allows you to see any status updates in your News Feed that they have posted and deemed public. These updates show up with all of your friends’ posts and updates, and you can tweak the types of content – both from your friends and those you subscribe to – that are showing up in your News Feed. Another new feature lets users hit a button when viewing another’s profile and choose from three different subscription settings – all updates (includes everything they post), most updates (the amount normally visible), or important updates online (highlights only).
This new feature is meant for users trying to reach a broader audience such as journalists, artists or political figures. The good thing about the Subscribe feature is that in order for someone to successfully subscribe to you and receive updates, all posts you make have to be public. Kids – and anyone else active on Facebook who is concerned about their privacy – should not have information like status updates public anyway, so the Subscribe button can serve as a warning and reminder to make sure the most secure privacy settings possible are in place.
Another important thing about the Subscribe feature that Inside Facebook points out is a default aspect of the feature. If someone on Facebook rejects a friendship request from someone else, the person who sent the friend request will automatically be subscribed to the user they friended. To highlight the seriousness of this, imagine that an unknown adult friends your child. Even if your child is smart enough to reject that friendship, they might have public information that others can subscribe to and that adult will still be able to automatically follow your child on Facebook even after the friendship was denied. We can’t emphasis enough the importance of making all posts, updates and other content on social networks visible to friends only. If anything, the Subscribe feature can serve as a reminder to parents and kids alike to keep their privacy settings up-to-date and to always stay on top of newly-released features on Facebook and other social networks.
What concerns do you have when there are new features on social networks such as this one?