Facebook and Twitter: Who’s Copying Whom?

Here’s an article I saw last week that I wanted to post about:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-33617_3-57515257-276/the-facebookification-of-twitter/

As you can see from the URL, the title of this article is “The Facebookification of Twitter”, which I found intriguing, since, if anything, I’ve been noticing ways in which there’s a “Twitterification” of Facebook.

In true journalist fashion, though, the writer has taken two anecdotal talking points (Twitter Headers and Twitter Cards) and inflated them into a trend showing how like Facebook Twitter now is.

This might have resonated with me more if I’d actually seen either of these features on Twitter lately. Supposedly Twitter Headers resembles the much maligned Facebook Timeline, and Twitter Cards allows companies to put their logos into tweets, which is supposedly something companies can already do in their Facebook statuses.

To the above I have two things to say:

1) Whatevs.

2) Now it’s my turn to be a true journalist and inflate two anecdotal talking points into a trend. Here are two ways in which I’ve noticed Facebook becoming more like Twitter:

a) Only in the last month or two have I started seeing Facebook “shares”, which to me are the FB equivalent of retweets. Only they’re sneakier than RTs. At least with an RT, there’s a very clear attribution of who wrote the original tweet. I still remember the first time a friend of mine on FB “shared” some photo that had gone viral, and I in all innocence thought she’d taken that photo herself, and went to leave a comment praising it — when I noticed that there were 5,000 comments already, all by people I’d never heard of. I’d overlooked the fine print: “[Brother Pelagius’s friend] has shared a photo by [Lucky Viral Guy]” was there in the FB message — or, at least, it is now — but I hadn’t noticed it initially, and I don’t think I’m alone on that.

b) One of the key differentiators between FB and Twitter is that on Twitter you can “friend” strangers, but on FB you generally can’t. At least, that’s not what it’s original intent was: FB was simply a new kind of Rolodex to catalog people you’d met In Real Life. (I once saw a tweet that said, “Facebook: all the people you’ve already had sex with. Twitter: all the people you want to have sex with.”)

Well, why is it that, these days, FB has started suggesting people I might like to “friend”, just like Twitter does? And why are these people so often complete strangers to me? — Hey, that’d be totally appropriate on Twitter — Twitter is all about interactions with random strangers — but it’s very off-brand for FB, I can throw around some marketing lingo here…

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