Facebook subscriptions let you fine-tune your news feed

Updated. Facebook now has a solution for dealing with friends who post too often, or are constantly adding games or apps that fill up your news feed, besides just hiding all their posts. The social network will announce subscriptions Wednesday, which are designed to let users decide what they want to see more and less of in their news feed. Subscriptions build on the idea of more control for users, which we also saw Tuesday with the introduction of Smart Lists, and with changes that emphasized privacy introduced last month.

Subscriptions will appear as a button on a user’s profile, or on each post that shows up in your news feed. Click on it, and you can choose to see all updates from someone, most updates (the current default), or just the most important life-change updates (e.g., baby, marriage, moving, new job). For example, you can also get more specific about what you see from people. You can say you want to see only pictures from certain people, or everything except the apps they install.

Subscriptions also let you subscribe to people you’re not friends with on Facebook, meaning that person’s public posts will show up in your news feed. But don’t think this is just a more convenient way to anonymously Facebook-stalk someone; they can easily find out who’s following them via notifications. Instead, think of it as a simpler “fan page” for public figures on Facebook, a little easier than maintaining a personal page for only friends and a public page that anyone can “like” to receive updates from that page in their news feed.

Update: Facebook users who’d rather not have anyone subscribing to them at all have the option of removing the button from their profile do not have to turn on the subscriber option. It’s an opt-in feature. There’s also no requirement to use subscribe to keep track of Facebook friends, either. Just adding someone as a friend on the network will continue to function as usual, without any interaction with the subscription feature.

Facebook admits this isn’t necessarily something everyone will want to use, and for now at least, they see it as a “power user” feature. Friend subscriptions will start to show up for some users Wednesday, and roll out to most others over the next few days.