Facebook's New Face: It's Twittertastic!

By  |  Thursday, March 12, 2009 at 12:04 am

Facebook LogoIf you can’t buy ’em, become ’em. That seems to be the philosophy behind the new Facebook home page which the company is in the process of rolling out over the next few days. Facebook may have failed to acquire Twitter, but it’s reinvented itself to look an awful lot like Twitter–on the surface, at least–with a “What’s on your mind?” box and a feed that’s dominated by your friends’ statuses, without all the detail of their other activities around Facebook:


Like just about everybody else who’s ever competed with Twitter, Facebook does more. You can embed images, videos, and links; there’s true threaded commenting; you can organize your friends into groups (family members and/or high school buddies, say) and then filter the feed to view any subset. And all the very un-Twitterlike richness of Facebook is still there–the inbox, the groups, the apps, the photo sharing, and lots more.

We know by now that simply being fancier than Twitter is not a recipe for beating Twitter: If it were, Pownce would be eating Twitter’s lunch rather than being…defunct. But Facebook has multiple assets that most Twitterkillers don’t: an existing gigantic and loyal user base, plenty of technical resources, and more smart, agile minds than most tech companies. I don’t see anyone who loves Twitter dumping it in favor of the new Facebook, but the new look does fold some of what’s good about Twitter into the Facebook mix.

But the new more Twitterlike incarnation of Facebook got me thinking: In some ways, the most striking difference between Facebook and Twitter has nothing to do with user interfaces or the fact that Twitter has very few features and Facebook is bursting at the seams with them. It’s that Twitter places no limitations on who I can interact with, and Facebook is still very much about limiting interactions. (I can’t be friends with someone until we both agree to the relationship, and there are tons of precise options for cutting back on what information about me my friends can see.)

With Twitter, I feel like I’m interacting with the world–or at least a few million folks who inhabit it. And I kind of like the bustling, fast-moving anything-can-happen feel. Facebook, by contrast, is a quieter, more mundane, more predictable place. Generally speaking, I know who I’ll run into there.

So here’s an unanswered question: Will Facebook ever open up more, in the sense of encouraging looser, more far-flung interaction between members, whether they’ve friended each other or not?

Facebook does have public profiles (here’s mine). But what I wish it had was an option to let anyone and everyone see everything I do on Facebook–with the exception of private messages–even if they’re not Facebook members. That’s the default option on Twitter, and it works for me…


Read more: 

8 Comments For This Post

  1. Alan Says:

    I also which you could open up items, like photos, blogs, status to anyone. You can have friends and followers. But I’m still waiting on my new design to roll out, so I can’t comment on the feel yet.

  2. Alan Says:

    OK, this is twice today I put in which instead of wish. Need more coffee I guess.

  3. Tracy Says:

    Personally, I HATE the new look of facebook. It is, excuse my french but a clusterflip of chaos and unwanted scrolling down the page to get to the information you’re looking for.

    There are definitely more ads when viewing your profile. But, that doesn’t bother me as much as the new functionality and “look” they’ve updated.

    First, I despise the new “HIghlights” on the right. There are a handful of unwanted friends whose “highlights” I don’t care to see, but don’t want to delete them as friends. It looks busy, it is not clean, and I am sick of seeing the same highlights every time I log in.

    Second, there is no way to “collapse” any of the feeds or shrink any of the updates, so if you click on “photos”, you see a large sized picture of the latest friend to add photos and you have to scroll down the entire page in order to see what other friends may have updated their photos. There is no option to collapse it into “one line” like the old facebook.

    Plus, all the text is the same size and boldness, so it is difficult to distinguish whether or not something is a status update, new photo story, link, etc.

    In addition, the “what’s on your mind” doesn’t show what your most recent “status” is, so if you don’t remember you have to scroll all through the clusterflip of chaos on your page to figure out what you wrote last. Really annoying.

    AND… I FINALLY convinced my mother and some other family members to join, taught them how to navigate the pages, why it’s useful and fun to keep in touch with people, etc. NOW it’s so confusing and will have to explain things like… why you can’t get rid of the “highlights” and why there are so many ads on the right side of the page.

    I’m incredibly disappointed at the roll out of the new facebook and am also disappointed in all of the “testing” and “observing of users” and “eye tracking” to find that what they rolled out is nothing but a clusterflip of a chaotic mess.

    I like clean, simple, non-busy. This is the complete opposite of what I once liked about facebook and hope they’ll at the very least give users the option of removing “highlights” or at least customizing them to include only those friends you choose (like you can in the feed portion to the left) and allow the “collapsing” of feeds to one line updates as they did before. Please allow for collapsing! Allow us to customize the look of our own page instead of having to deal with your chaotic mess you created.

    Oh and also add your most recent status to “what’s on your mind” so we don’t have to scroll down to figure out what we wrote last.


  4. CasinoInArizona Says:

    I don’t like it…

  5. Mab Says:

    It seems that most innovation lover and interactive people do have some kind of nostalgia as it appears from the comments to the story on the new face of the Facebook.

  6. dale johnson Says:

    I cant say what i want to see and what i dont want to see. I moderate a sports star’s FB page. He has over 1000 friends, we dont want to see their staus updates as much as thier photos and videos. There usedto be a way of making that change. there is no longer. Plus yes now i have to reteach the non-computer sports guy on how to use the damn pages and even i havent figured it out yet. out of 5 stars, id give it a 2 on day 1

  7. Jon Says:

    For those who don’t like the ‘Highlights’ section, have a look at Mike’s suggestion on http://www.searchenginejournal.com/gradual-roll-out-of-the-new-facebook-home-page-starts/9167/.

  8. Chris Says:

    I absolutely hate the new facebook look.

1 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Technology news for 2009-03-12 | Technology News Says:

    […] Posted an item Mike Doeff: Facebook’s New Face: It’s Twittertastic! | Technologizer (via delicious) […]