This evening Facebook began testing what appears to be their version of Twitter’s retweet feature: “via”. On any article shared by your friend, you can click on “Share” and when you post the article to your profile, Facebook will now automatically say who the article came from. While the “via” content only currently works on shared articles, I’d assume that this feature would be extended to other stream stories if initial user testing proves successful. We’ve written extensively about the Twitterfication of Facebook, and this appears to be one more step in that process.
As pictured below, users are able to opt-out of having the shared “via” content displayed when they post a story, however by default any article you share will also include the name of the person that you found the article from. It’s a form of attribution and it also helps generate a trail of where information comes from in the social graph. This is the first iteration of a “retweet” alternative that we’ve seen, however Facebook has had status tagging for months now, something many users still ironically aren’t aware of.
My guess is that this new “via” feature will also increase the use of status tagging in general as many users don’t know how to attribute others within their status updates. There’s few features at this point which Twitter has that Facebook hasn’t incorporated into their site. While Facebook always tends to generate their own version in order to differentiate themselves from Twitter, the influence which Twitter has had over Facebook in general is significant.
Right now it appears as though all users have this feature although it was only recently turned on (at some point this evening). We’ll be sure to continue our ongoing coverage of Facebook’s Twitterfication.
Thanks to Joel Spiro for the tip!