Facebook vs Twitter: Why facebook will never be twitter

I can't deny that I am fairly much still overwhelmed by TweetDeck's move to include facebook status. This is day 2 I'm using the new version. And i got an epiphany; Facebook will never be Twitter!

I've always wanted to follow more people that I know in real life on twitter. And I've been a passionate evangelist to the platform (I'm currently writing a Facebook app to publish facebook status to Twitter: Kepo).

I have Tweetdeck organized by noise-to-signal ratio predictions; one column for twitterpeeps that I don't want to miss, one for replies and all the other twitterpeeps that I follow. Yesterday, I've added another column to show facebook statuses. Now that I got what I wanted to consume Facebook Statuses from one client app, I am suddenly not so keen on the idea anymore. My feed's noise to signal ratio suddenly becomes much higher, as I'm bombarded with informations from my facebook contacts.

What's interesting here is that I'm starting to realise that Facebook Status and Twitter are really 2 different things, even seemingly look alike.

Facebook Status is about keeping up to date with people you know; social friends and families. Let's call this Symbiotic Following. It encourages existing relationship to flourish even more by increasing the rate of information exchange between the members. The assumption is (by default); one will be interested in what their friends 'have on their mind' because they have chose to "be friends". This is similar to what Windows Live messenger have been doing in the last decade with their custom status.

Twitter, on the other hand, is all about picking and choosing the right stream to consume that is of best value to you. Most its users are basing their decision to follow someone by the type and quality of information other users share on their stream. This is something that Twitter does best as a consequence of being such monolithic-single-purpose web application. It (somewhat) dettaches the idea from the author.The 'follow' model is also obviously very different to its symbiotic 'add as friend' counterpart. These 2 charasteristics made Twitter a perfect breeding ground for Asymmetric Following relationships.

Facebook and Twitter are so different. All these differences and subtle characteristics of the platform eventually contribute to the context (therefore;quality) and accessibility of their information feeds. This is why Facebook will never be Twitter even if it tried. Facebook lives based on its exclusivity and to compete with companies like Twitter, they have to let go the base principle that it holds.

  1. says:

    That depends part upon to what purpose you assign to both facebook and twitter. I know yours, in that you consider facebook private and twitter public.

    However your facebook profile may be public and your twitter private. So your assumptions may not be relevant to all.

    In the end they are both mediums upon which to communicate, and your personal desires will shape your experience.

  2. says:

    @Xian Valid point. But the way media presents itself will shape (or maybe filter?) the demography and culture of its audience.

    For e.g MySpace for someone reason are still found to be highly appealing to the younger crowd. And its probably due to its emphasis on skinning options, public profile and music plyaer.

    My point is, with the different feature facebook got, one would need to jump over alot of hoops to make it public. for e.g, sacrificing the completeness of personal details (like phone numbers), manually untagging personal photos posted by friends, etc.

    Its philosophy (hence its feature) are driving people to make it a personal/trusted application to share with their trusted network.

    Twitter through its (lack of) features obviously tend to pull their audience to open up more to the public.

  3. says:

    And Xian, though what you say is technically correct, the "leaning" of each platform is different. This is not just because Facebook stuff is private (by default) and Twitter stuff is public (by default). It has a lot to do with the asymmetric following Ronald describes, which changes the nature of the relationships. ’┬ŽIn case it helps, I have diagrammed the difference between the relationships in jonreid.blogs.com/.../twitter-is-not-

  4. says:

    @Jon Reid wow great post Jon.

    you wrote: 'My experience is that this encourages connections based on content'

    It's great how 'again' we come to the same exact conclusion. In the above post I wrote:

    It [Twitter] (somewhat) dettaches the idea from the author.