Twitter and Facebook, since beginning, were entirely different from each other and always offered distinct features to their users to socialize and network online. One portal was public; the other was mostly in circle of friends. One was a portal for news and update from friends, the other mostly about discussion and public events. One had a domination of multimedia and images, the other more text-centric.
These distinctions have pretty much been broken down over the past year. In their hurry of winning from each other and for making more ad money, Twitter (soon to become a public company) and Facebook are now converging on identical set of features.
The latest borrowings that Facebook received from Twitter are obvious. Earlier this week Facebook made announcement of an upcoming “public feed” which compiles all the public posts; the feature is similar to the Twitter feed. During last month, Facebook started to highlight “trending” topics to users, which again is something Twitter has done for a long time. This feature was developed as part of another new feature, but it originated with Twitter, introducing hashtags on Facebook that members can use to label their statuses and comments with certain topics.
It was revealed earlier this summer that Facebook employs people who court celebrities very actively and help them build following, which clearly is an attempt to compete Twitter, as it’s a known fact that Twitter is a default place for celebrities and other public figures.
Looking into the other way, Twitter recently redesigned the way conversations are displayed. This abandons the historical commitment of Twitter to show all the updates in reverse chronological order, supportive of the chronological convention at other online places (including Facebook). Twitter, last year, discovered a way around its dependence on text with the introduction of “cards”. These clearly display text, video, images, advertisements and other media that is linked in a tweet and evade Twitter’s limit of 140 characters in posts. The cards by Twitter seem and behave almost exactly as Facebook embeds ads and media in its feeds. As per most recent updates, Twitter, this week, took over a mobile ad company, named MoPub, perhaps to combat the progress of Facebook in mobile advertising.
The collision course of Twitter and Facebook seems a lot more driven by their haste to generating more revenues from advertisements than an effort to meet what their users might really like. Twitter could not show much “paid for” content without bargaining on its simple features set and turning into more like Facebook.
There are yet no details available to see if this plagiarism campaign is really helping the two companies, but this practice could certainly help the smaller competitors of the two. The dominant websites merging into one alike, ad-dominated portal leaves considerable space for the smaller websites to introduce more innovative features, and could certainly make people more eager to look out for new ideas on socializing online.