I’ve been a twitterer for about a year now – pretty much since just before I got my iphone. It’s my killer app on the phone and I love the immediacy of it’s microblogging format and the fact that I can find about earthquakes in Melbourne quicker than news agency can deliver it. For just as long, I’ve been forwarding my tweets to Facebook using switchabit – understanding that the status updates part of the site was essentially the same as was I was doing in twitter and why write it twice? For a year that’s mostly worked fine until the last week or so when a few people in my work and private life have said I’m dominating their facebook page and they either enjoy it or had to hide me. I don’t care either way – micro-blogging is mostly selfish for me, but I’m haven’t been doing any more updates than normal, so it made me wonder what’s changed. Then I remembered – Facebook.
A few months ago Facebook tried to buy twitter for a very large amount of money. Twitter, being a cocky upstart, decided they weren’t interested and decided to move ahead focusing on trying to scale out their infrastructure which is already suffering under popularity mode (see the popularity of the Fail Whale). Facebook, being the recently crowned social networking king (ousting myspace) decided “if you can’t buy them, beat them into rubble” and set about on a plan to implement it’s own twitter function. With the rollout of the new home page, suddenly status updates were the primary focus and all my idle twitter thoughts soon spammed all my friends facebook pages. Being quite new to this idea of constant stream of updates, they weren’t prepared for this onslaught of information and dealt with it in the only way they know how – “see less of this person”. Once again, I need to stress that I’m not making this personal, I don’t mind if you see less of me – I’m not that arrogant to believe I’m the centre of your universe, but I do feel the need to explain why it’s happening.
I am Facebook’s future. Facebook wants that many updates a day and as people learn to microblog, Facebook will get it. Soon, I won’t be the only one with 5 status updates a day – all your friends will be doing 5 updates a day. So your facebook home page will be extremely full of the minutea of everyones life. But it is ok, Facebook has put some plans in place to help you cope. You can filter your friends in to different level of things, such as home, work, close friends, loved ones, friends that I only friended on facebook because I felt sorry for them, people I haven’ seen in 15 years. Once grouped, you can work your way through the status updates in order of your own preference – Loved ones first, people I don’t like last. Facebook has even changed it so that anyone can see your status updates and even your entire profile, which is just another missile at twitter.
Meanwhile, twitter is probably scared out of it’s mind and it should worry. Right now it still gets my vote since it’s lightweight, has location awareness and is solely status update focused (no photos or games etc). But it suffers from outages (less these days) and the lack of creating groups in the applications is making it harder for me to see the most important people to me when they tweet. If twitter doesn’t improve on those things soon, it will start losing users and when a social media tool losers users it loses relevance. Facebook is opening up it’s API for other apps to interface with the status updates which means soon we’ll have a whole bunch of apps taking advantage of it (tweetdeck has already started). Will we all end up using 3rd party apps to post to both facebook and twitter, or will the dust settle and the winner takes it all?
Either way, prepare for the onslaught of friend information, you might not like what you see. 🙂