Facebook vs. Twitter: How Do You Like Your Social News Feed with or without filter?
Complaints New York Times writer Nick Bilton of this week about how little commitment to its content brings Facebook sparked a debate about whether the network is deliberately hiding certain types of content to promote their premium services reach, but also put highlighted how Facebook controls power users view, often in ways we do not understand or even consider.
Facebook (FB) is going to launch some new features for food on Thursday, which may include new ways to filter specific types of content and possibly advertising features. Meanwhile, Twitter continues to show everything without filtering or classification in any way. Which method is better? That depends on how and why they are using.
Much of the criticism Bilton revolves around what some call the “subscribe” function, which allows users to receive updates of others without having to ask permission. When it was launched in the fall of 2011, which was seen as an attempt to copy “next asymmetric” model of Twitter because Twitter allows users who want to get updates, while the model has always been symmetrical Facebook , in the sense that users must agree to be friends before they can be updates. Last year, Facebook changed the name of this feature to “follow”, which made the similarity with Twitter even more evident.
As an attempt to copy Twitter, the tracking function seems to be largely a failure, at least if the experience of Bilton and others have complained about Facebook newsfeed, such as billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban, are anything go by. They say they have a lot of commitment, making them question whether their content is even reach your subscribers and if Facebook is changing your diet so that certain types of updates do not appear as often.
The last time this issue came up, when Cuba and actor George Takei criticized the network due to lack of commitment on the part of subscribers, a number of Facebook users attacked the company for filtering their food and does not show all updates of the pages or the individuals who were following. Some users said the equivalent of: “If I get one, I want to see all the changes, not just the ones you choose to show.”
In short, this is the fundamental difference between Twitter and Facebook: The first filter is not applied to the stream of updates that users get, other than as required by law, if you follow a couple of thousands of users, as I, then you get all updates for all users, and to flow past you in a giant river undifferentiated tweets, in reverse chronological order.
Facebook, however, applies to all kinds of algorithmic adjustments for a news service on the basis of what some call EdgeRank (although this is not a term that Facebook uses internally, according to Reuters’ Anthony De Rosa), and So some updates are more prominent than others, and in some cases updates can never appear at all. Users have control over some of the knobs and buttons that hide or reveal certain types of jobs, but a lot of filtering also happens behind the scenes, making Facebook a bit of a black box style Google.
Depending on how you see them, these two different approaches can be a good thing or a bad thing. Twitter method is theoretically more transparent and comprehensive, as it is completely unfiltered, but it can also be overwhelming, and the network has worked hard to try to help users deal with this vast stream of content through such things as the Discover tab. Method Facebook seems much more invasive and reserved, but also can make it easier to deal with endless ocean of content-an average of 2,000 messages per day per user.
Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land has a useful analogy for the difference between the two: Twitter is a bit like television news in real time, while Facebook works more like a DVR that allows you to see things after they have happened (although some extent the network chooses to show you what your DVR does not). These are two very different experiences of social power.