Since the launch of Facebook, the traditional means of following someone on the site involved becoming “friends” with him. When someone is your Facebook friend, all of his posts show up in your news feedand vice versa. (That is, all of your status updates show up in your friend’s news feed, too.)
That’s changing, however. While Facebook still follows the friends model, there’s now another way to follow a person’s activities on the Facebook sitewithout having your posts appear in that person’s news feed.
Friends and FollowersWhat’s the Difference?
The new method of following people on Facebook is called, not surprisingly, following them. That is, you sign up to follow that personto become a follower, in Facebook parlance. It’s similar to being a friend, but with some important differences.
First, you don’t need a person’s approval to follow him on Facebook. That’s distinctly different from the traditional friend process, where you have to send someone a friend invitation, and you only become friends if that person accepts the invitation. With the follow process, there are no invitations involved, and no approvals, either; you simply sign up to follow a person, and then that person’s status updates automatically show up in your news feed. The other person need not even be aware that you’re following him.
The second difference is that, unlike friending, following is a one-way street. That is, you see posts from the person you follow, but she doesn’t see posts from you. It’s more like the following process on Twitter than being a traditional Facebook friend; it turns posting into a one-way broadcast rather than a two-way communication.
Not that you can’t join in and respond to the posts you follow. Just as with traditional status updates, you can opt to like or comment on any post from anyone you follow on Facebook. It’s just that they don’t see all the other posts you initiate.
(Interestingly, when the follow function was launched in September, 2011, it was called subscriptions, and you subscribed to a person’s Facebook posts. In December, 2012, Facebook changed the name of the process from subscribing to following, thus matching other sitesincluding Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagramin using the “following” nomenclature.)