Facebook borrows Twitter’s “follow” terminology to replace “subscribe”

Facebook defined “poke” for a new generation, but the social network can’t say the same about “subscribe.”

The term “subscribe” apparently never caught on with members, so Facebook is dumping it in favor of something more universally recognizable: “follow.” Facebook is co-opting the word follow, made popular by Twitter’s open-ended relationships, and using to permanently stand in for subscribe.

“We found [follow] is a term that resonates better with people on the service. Nothing is changing about how the feature works,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

Beginning today, the social network is switching out the terms across the site, which means everywhere you now see subscribe — on Timelines and Interest Lists — you’ll soon see follow, and subscribers will now be called followers. The gradual rollout will take a few weeks to reach all members.

Subscribe, if you recall, was introduced last September as Facebook’s first attempt at allowing relationships other than friendships. Members could click to subscribe to a person’s profile to follow that user’s public updates without having to be his or her approved friend. Subscribe, which is an opt-in feature for members, has proved to be a powerful tool for journalists and public personalities anxious to drum up a large following. The subscribe button is also a part of Facebook’s Interest Lists, the topic-themed collections of Pages and public figures curated by members.

But the word subscribe is not something Facebook members totally get — and understandably so. So more than a year later, the social network is changing the name of the feature to follow. You follow?

Facebook photo via Shutterstock


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