The Coming Twit-Pocalypse

Facebook and Twitter are on a collision course.  And my money is on Facebook.

What gives?

With Facebook’s latest, and decidedly controversial redesign, they put status updates FRONT and CENTER. Admittedly, this wasn’t a huge departure from the way status updates were displayed before, and the change probably wouldn’t have been a big deal – until you looked at your Twitter home page.

Notice any similarities?

In the Venn Diagram of Features, Facebook Swallows Twitter

Twitter has exactly one function. Status updates. Twitter’s open API functions are what make it so popular. Anyone can write an application to read or update tweets. Because of this, Twitter has become as much a communication platform as it has a website.  All of its 4 to 5 million users can use any number of methods to let their followers know they’re eating a plate full of pork lomein.

Facebook does all of this and more. In fact, Facebook has even finer grained control over friend listing and sorting. You can also “blackout” friends so you don’t see their status updates at all. Additionally, Facebook status updates accept comments or, to use the Twitter analog, “replies”, which effectively gives you threaded conversations.

Flip

Now, imagine tomorrow if Facebook flipped a switch and suddenly there was an open REST API through which you could update your Facebook status with a desktop application like Twhirl. [ed. note: TweetDeck is already on it] Now imagine you instantly begin seeing the steady stream of your Facebook friends updates. Then imagine you can expand and contract each update to see the conversation thread or even put a “pin” in one so it stays near the top of your feed to monitor it. Now imagine the 175 million Facebook users using this service compared to Twitter’s paltry 4 or 5 million.

If Facebook doesn’t make this move inside of the next 12 months I will be shocked. If you’re reading this and it’s April 2010 and Facebook doesn’t have its boot on Twtter’s throat then you should stop reading this blog because I’m full of shit.

I Welcome our New Information Overlords

Invariably there will be resistance to the new world order of status and presence trafficking. Let’s look at the situation objectively, though. Facebook’s platform is superior to Twitter’s in almost every way:

  • Custom friend lists and groups at the source.
  • Threaded conversations.
  • Fine-grained friend control including temporary friend “blackouts”.
  • A business plan that makes, you know, money.
  • Forms of updates other than text. Presumably (and hopefully) this would be filterable.

Within 48 hours of Facebook turning on some kind of open REST / API system someone will release a desktop application with all or most of the features I’ve talked about baked in.  From then it will only be a matter of time before Twitter becomes irrelevant.

About JP Toto

JP is a devops developer in Philadelphia, PA. He works at eMoney Advisor by day and attempts to cook by night.

5 Comments

  1. Considering I haven’t been able to log into facebook all day along with hereing many folks go from myspace to twitter, and not really liking facebook, I don’t think they are direct competitors. The more facebook tries to be twitter plus everything else, the more it could potentially backfire, since a lot of facebook’s core audience seems to get mad at every little change. Also, facebook users that aren’t on twitter or just don’t “get” twitter will continually update their status with this style of status updates “is hating the new facebook”. I believe they will coexist for a long time to come. I would also think twice about putting my money on anything these days, considering the TET (Tough Economic Times)

  2. Those are fair points. In the long run, though, I don’t think it will be a question of switching – it will be the brute force of Facebook.

    I think that eventually Facebook is going to cajole its users into using status updates the same way we use twitter. That’s 175 million people. Forget the switchers. The shear mass of that many users is what will attract services and money. And it will be taking those services and money from twitter.

    As for the “is hating the new facebook” people. That’s to be expected. When twitter changed their home page twitter users said the same thing. Then they got over it.

    I’m not saying I’m going to like it. But objectively speaking I think the Facebook platform, as a communication service, is superior and when the API opens and someone drops a rad desktop application that incorporates ideas like the ones I mentioned, its’ gonna be trouble for twitter.

  3. The main difference I see is that Facebook is a way for people you already know to share information and Twitter is away to share information with people you don’t know personally. I follow media organization and celebrities. I have access to their tweets/thoughts in a way I never could through Facebook alone.

    Additionally, I’ve created friendships through Twitter; I cement friendships with Facebook.

    Just a thought on why these two services can co-exist peacefully.

  4. My thoughts on the thing (which you know of already): http://www.arpitonline.com/blog/?p=192

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