Facebook to change ‘subscribe’ to ‘follow’

By Brittany Darwell Comment

Facebook says it plans to change the wording of its “subscribe” feature to “follow,” according to an email from a company spokesperson.

Starting today, the subscribe button on the profiles of users who have enabled the option will change to “follow.” This will also apply to the subscribe button on interest lists. Facebook says all functionality will stay the same. The rewording is simply to make the feature more recognizable to users. Twitter of course popularized the use of “follow,” with many other services like Quora and Instagram also using the term.

The social network introduced subscribe for personal accounts in September 2011 to allow for asymmetric relationships between users. Similar to Twitter, people can view content in News Feed from people they don’t know but are interested in. For example, a user can subscribe to public updates from a celebrity without the celebrity needing to approve a friend request. Starting today, people will enable “followers” rather than “subscribers.”

In June, Facebook introduced an Open Graph “follow” action for developers to implement in their apps. With the feature, users can get updates about other users’ app activity within the Facebook News Feed, rather than needing to visit the app to find out about it. It makes sense for Facebook to unify its wording for apps and on-Facebook activity.

The social network has also tested a subscribe button for pages as a way for users to see content from a page within their feed without publicly “liking” it. Facebook tells us the test period of this is over and results are being evaluated. This means there isn’t currently a “follow” button on any pages, just user profiles and interest lists.