Facebook Makes Another Big Announcement with ‘Subscriptions’

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Facebook continues to refine the level of control granted to users over their News Feed. The social network’s newest feature, Subscriptions, functions similarly to the way you can follow people on Twitter, but with a few notable differences.

The new subscriptions service adds another layer to Facebook’s relationship hierarchy, which already included Friends and saw Acquaintances introduced just a few days ago. It’s a move that a few voices across the web view as part of an arms race with Google Plus.

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When you hit the Subscribe button on someone’s profile, it gives you the ability to keep tabs on their updates without having to befriend them. You’ll be able to select how much of their content you’ll see popping up in your News Feed via a drop-down menu where you can select options like “All Updates” or “Only Important” updates (like getting married or moving cities), or more specifically tailored types of content like Life Events, Status Updates, Photos and Videos, or Games.

Don’t want strangers subscribing to your profile? No problem. Facebook gives you the option to toggle subscriptions on and off if you’re concerned about privacy.

Still, it’s an exciting new a feature that wouldn’t be possible without Facebook’s new and improved filtering system, which allows users to control who they want seeing their content more concisely–you won’t have to click through extraneous menus to figure out who’s seeing what.

But what will people think of their new options? I think Ben Parr over at Mashable nails it: “It could spur more public sharing a la Twitter, or it could raise more privacy concerns for a social network that has had its share of privacy controversies.”

My guess is that Subscriptions will provide a serviceable megaphone for users that want it; for everyone else it’s just a quieter, easier way to stalk.

Head over to the Facebook blog to read more.

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Chris Gayomali is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @chrigz, on Facebook, or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.