Why Twitter is not Facebook, and why some people think it is

by Laurent François

Twitter is a the worldwide flavor of the month. Gosh, it seems like you could talk to the whole world, Twitter would be about to defeat Facebook, people would love Twittering and Twitter would give their money/time back to the users. Yes, but no. Wake up: there’s nothing like that at stake.

Facebook model is partially based on implicit network. Implicit networks don’t mean static networks: an implicit network is basically your address book. Your mum’s phone number, your lawyer, your friends, your coleagues, your girfriends’ friends, the guys you could invite at home, or that you met in a party. it’s based on your “real” social activities.
Facebook model is also based on explicit networks. Explicit networks mean that you have a purpose: hooking up a boy or a girl (we all receive strange Friendship requests), business, preparation of a meeting or of an event, spying…”Networking” with an aim. And some of these explicit reasons make us angry: we’re fed up with all the guys trying to seduce us, we’re fed up with all these intrusive business guys that you don’t really know.

Twitter is probably more based on explicit networks: I have an explicit interest to follow NYTimes account, to follow my coleagues thoughts and noise, to get in touch with the great social media experts in California. And there comes the problem: once your implicit network comes into an explicit one, there’s a trouble: the noise is too big to be followed, so the social usage you have on twitter is just very weak. And we all experience it: we start removing, cleaning the profiles we follow. There are as many Twitter explicit usages than individuals on them. But there’s a critical point that we all fix: like any noise, if it’s too loud for you, you have to turn the volume down.

So Facebook starts to think “feeds” and social. Is it jeopardizing Twitter? No, because there’s a shelter called implicit network: you cannot overload your real friends with your explicit social activities. It’d be too much. And in the meantime, if you start sharing your personal pictures on Twitter, you give implicit details of your life that don’t fit with Twitter explicit logics. Unless you like voyeurs.

Finally Facebook is not Twitter. And guess what: Twitter does not want to be Facebook.

“Without knowing it, Twitter is quickly becoming the best search engine out there (watch out Google!). It is powered by people you know (or are connected to) and it is full of smart people. Very smart people. On top of that, we are able to harness the infamous wisdom of crowds to get a response. There have been times where multiple people have provided pieces of the answer that together paints a perfect picture. There have even been debates that have lead to various answers that provide color and perspective.”

Because based on human analysis. A kind of big “wiki function” added on a Search Engine.

3 Comments to “Why Twitter is not Facebook, and why some people think it is”

  1. J’y vois une autre différence qui me fait préférer FB.
    Sur Facebook la relation est égale : vous êtes amis.
    Sur Twitter, il y a une grosse différence ( y compris dans le nombre ) entre followings et followers…
    Guillaume

  2. Excellent explanation of the differences between Twitter and Facebook using brilliant key terms: explicit vs. implicit networks. Your argument really crystallizes why you should not feed your Twitter stream into your Facebook profile (floods your implicit network with info from your explicit network).

  3. Bonjour, Laurent – and Hi again, Doctorious 😉

    Oui, vraiment une explication tres utile – surtout pour ceux d’entre-nous (moi) qui ne sont arrives a FB que tres en retard et quand nous etions obliges d’y etre a cause de reseaux professionels. Collegues+clients+enfants = cauchemar!

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