Last Thursday, Facebook introduced a redesigned news feed that makes it easier for users to access and read what they want.
So what are the implications for Twitter of Facebook’s revamped news feed?
Facebook’s mission for news feed is to be like a “personalized newspaper,” in the words of CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“When you pick up a newspaper, it’s rare that you’ll read it front to back, which is what the old news feed (kind of) represented. Odds are, when you’ve got a paper in your hands, you already know that you want to read about last night’s basketball game, see what’s going on in your city this weekend, or play the crossword.”
Twitter, on the other hand, provides you with said newspaper’s exhaustive content, putting the onus on you to divide and conquer in finding the information and people you want.
Part of that difference is rooted in Twitter’s asymmetric following model, as Twitter lets users get updates from whomever they wish, be it a celebrity, pro athlete, or the Pope himself.
Facebook’s model has always been symmetric, requiring users to first be mutual friends with another Facebook user before getting access to each other’s updates. Of course, Facebook’s “subscribe” function brings it closer to Twitter territory (especially after relabeling the feature “follow” late last year).
But many have reported limited success with this Facebook functionality. As GigaOm put it,
“As an attempt to copy Twitter, the follow feature seems to be largely a failure – at least if the experiences of [New York Times writer Nick] Bilton and others who have complained about Facebook’s newsfeed, such as billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban, are anything to go by. They say they don’t get much engagement, which makes them question whether their content is even reaching their subscribers and whether Facebook is tweaking their feed so that certain kinds of updates don’t show up as frequently.”
But does the relaunched Facebook news feed change anything? The enhanced content filters mean that users will be able to drill down to see content from just friends, just pages, specific lists – and eventually types of content, like photo and video.
That ability to hone what you see might be preferable to people who find Twitter overwhelming – if you follow 2,000 people, you’re going to see thousands and thousands of tweets from those people all in one, unfiltered stream of undifferentiated tweets, in reverse chronological order.
BUT: Facebook also does a lot behind the scenes without telling you much about how it works. Facebook has come under fire from millions of users who say the network is turning down the volume on their posts, limiting engagement (unless you pay to promote your content) and controlling the news feed through algorithms that make the content users see inorganic.
Twitter, on the other hand, maintains a sort of purity – it can be chaotic, but there are tools to combat that; and the network, unlike Facebook, is never invasive in controlling what you do and don’t see.
Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land made a great analogy for the difference between Facebook and Twitter: Twitter is like real-time TV news, while Facebook is more like a DVR that lets you watch things after they’ve already happened (although Facebook chooses what to show you, which your faithful DVR does not).
They are, and always have been, two very different social experiences. But something sits better with us about being able to be in the driver’s seat with our social network (Twitter) rather than have some distant computer equations dictate what content we see, from who, when.
So, that’s our two cents. Let’s hear it – what are your thoughts on the Facebook vs. Twitter debate of the millennium?
(Image via IWriteALot)