Facebook becomes more like Twitter with @ mentions

One theory about evolution of the "at&quo...
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People often describe Twitter as “Facebook reduced only to the status update”. I always found this a poor description, as there was always a significant difference between my Twitter updates and Facebook statuses. With Facebook I can only tell people about me; with Twitter, I can include other people and other topics in the conversation. This is what @ replies do on Twitter - they let me include other people in my updates and associate it with them as much as it is associated with me.

Using @ replies in Twitter is a way to share and connect through content. I can write, for example, about my colleague @cosmond, and include him in the post. That post will then appear on my wall and on Charlie’s. People who follow me or who follow Charlie will then see that I wrote about him.

This is a small but important piece of functionality. It changes my updates from being informational and for my friends and connections only, to being connectors. They organise information based on the people mentioned and connect me with the people I include (and them with me). We move from a situation where I connect with friends and distribute my content, to one where I connect with people through my content. This has a significant impact on the dynamics of the social network; elevating content over just personal connections and allowing you to distribute it further and more easily.

This week, Facebook did become more like Twitter. They have launched their own version of @ replies (called @ mentions), which allow you to include your friends, groups and pages in your status updates and posts on Facebook. You also post your update to your friend’s wall, and link to them. You are starting to connect people to content and to organise what you write. As Facebook say in their blog post explaining the new development:

People often update their status to reflect their thoughts and feelings, or to mention things they feel like sharing. Sometimes that includes referencing friends, groups or even events they are attending — for instance, posting “Grabbing lunch with Meredith Chin” or “I’m heading to Starbucks Coffee Company — anyone want some coffee?”

So, Facebook has taken a step closer to Twitter. Social networks are moving from just connecting people based on friendship to organising and linking people based on content.

  • Facebook copies Twitter, adds @replies (inquisitr.com)
  • Facebook Is Going for Some Twitter Sensibility (nytimes.com)
  • BREAKING: Facebook Introduces @Mentions in Status Updates (mashable.com)
  • Facebook adopts Twitterspeak for tagging friends in updates (venturebeat.com)