The biggest difference between Twitter and Facebook

Facebook yesterday turned on a bunch of new features on its news feed (here is TechCrunch’s writeup of the new features). It looks a lot more like FriendFeed, even though Facebook claims that the FriendFeed team didn’t work on these new features.

What does it do? Now Facebook mostly displays items that got engagement. You know, comments. Likes. Tagging. Etc.

This makes Facebook much more useful because you only see the items that your friends have found important enough to comment on or “touch” in some way. Overnight my news feed went from something that looked pretty cold and lame to something that has tons of “warmth.”

I am SO GLAD I deleted most of the people I had friended on Facebook and went down to a core group of people because I’m getting some pretty good items there now.

But I notice it now has the thing that most of my friend’s hated about FriendFeed: there are people on my feed I didn’t invite all of a sudden.

Here’s how that happens. Let’s say I’m a friend of Maryam Scoble, my wife. I see all her items. That is cool. But it also displays me any of HER FRIENDS who comment on her items. I might not care to read her friends’ opinions on politics or whatever. But I can’t easily get rid of them.

Twitter, on the other hand, doesn’t have comments. So you can’t easily have a back and forth conversation about something like you can over on FriendFeed or Facebook. But it has a HUGE advantage: I only see items from people I invited to get on my home screen.

That is a HUGE advantage for controlling noise and for keeping yourself productive. Especially after you get Twitter’s new lists feature, which lets you split your contacts up into separate pages (I have a page of just Venture Capitalists, for instance, which is a completely different feed from my page of tech journalists).

This is the biggest difference now between Twitter and Facebook and is one that keeps rubbing in that on Twitter you should follow lots of people and brands that you care about, while on Facebook you should follow only people you REALLY care about because they will drag into your view all THEIR friends and that will make your feed noisier and less valuable. Hope your friends choose their friends carefully.

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

63 thoughts on “The biggest difference between Twitter and Facebook

  1. I enjoy Facebook more than Twitter because of the level of engagement. Sometimes on Twitter, it feels like you are throwing your update up on a wall hoping it sticks. Starts to remind me of Digg. However, Facebook is actually a real social community where people befriend you based on some level of similarity.

  2. I enjoy Facebook more than Twitter because of the level of engagement. Sometimes on Twitter, it feels like you are throwing your update up on a wall hoping it sticks. Starts to remind me of Digg. However, Facebook is actually a real social community where people befriend you based on some level of similarity.

  3. If you think it's tough on you to read what all Miryam's friends are doing, you ought to see what it's like for HER, seeing what all YOUR friends are doing. ;-)

  4. hopefully facebook will learn what customer service is, I made an account aug 09 have gotten 38 emails to confirm friends ,but facebook says i dont have an account.send more emails than have in year asking for help , they have no phone service ,and they have computer generated responces, hopefully twitter actually has (live people) or actually respond to those who need there help

  5. I really don’t care about the “look” of facebook. I just wish it would work. For several days I have either been unable to get on because my “account is unvailable due to site maintenance” or I do get logged in only to find they have completely erased my entire friend list so I can’t look at their profiles or contact them. I tried just sending a message, but got kicked off. Whatever they have done it isn’t an improvement.

  6. “I might not care to read her friends’ opinions on politics or whatever.”
    you dont have to read them. There are several news headlines featured when you go to cnn.com. Do you click on each of them and read them? Quit whining already and just learn to adapt seamlessly.

  7. This is very good analysis. I had given up on Twitter for the last 2 months and invested more time into Facebook. I am thinking about giving Twitter another try though.

    The “Noise” is certainly a problem for me. It is just that so many people have very little to say. But I think I have to put this onto myself. I am probably not following or friending the right people. Nor am I putting in the time to give back.

    Funny how the internet works very similar to relationships.

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