Tweeting from Facebook now a reality

Ronny Kerr · August 21, 2009 · Short URL:

Facebook (slowly, wisely) opens up to Twitter publishing; also, Twitter wanted to buy FriendFeed

For quite awhile now, users have been able to get apps for Facebook that automatically copy Twitter posts to their Facebook profiles. Facebook has yet to provide a way to do the opposite.

Until now, that is.

A feature that allows publishing to Twitter from Facebook pages will be released over the next few days, according to a post on the Facebook Blog made yesterday by engineering intern Michael Gummelt. For administrators of Facebook pages, selecting which content to cross-publish—status updates, links, photos, notes, and/or event creations—will be a breeze, and the rest will follow.

Linked to Twitter

Unfortunately, Facebook loses some kudos for not going all the way in allowing users with personal profiles to link those to their Twitter accounts. As it is now, this update will serve only public figures, businesses, and organizations with public presences online. Gummelt lists Dane Cook, The World Wildlife Fund, and the NBA as some good examples already linking their content from Facebook pages to Twitter.

Why doesn’t Facebook shoot for full openness, allowing regular users to connect their updates to Twitter too?
F - t
Some speculate that Facebook is worried that such a move would cancel out the site’s advantage over Twitter, in terms of number of users, if everything on Facebook were to be simply copied over to Twitter. Once Facebook really starts encouraging its users to make their updates public, with the aim of making Facebook a real-time search engine like Twitter, this might be a legitimate concern.

On the other hand, openness is always a winning strategy.

Though FriendFeed certainly wasn’t the most popular social network on the Internet, it served up a powerful engine because it focused on the ability to connect with various other networks, like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and many others. Surely this was one reason why Facebook’s purchase of FriendFeed was so important.

Even Twitter was wooing FriendFeed, according to a VentureBeat article posted yesterday, and the company’s executives were thinking about shelling out the $50 million in cash and equity for the site.

But, as everyone knows, Facebook made the purchase first. Perhaps the number one order of business for Facebook’s new team from FriendFeed then is to figure out how to open up the site’s 250 million users to other social bookmarking and networking sites, while ensuring the continued dominance and strong user base that the site has maintained for so long now.

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.



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FriendFeed makes it fun and easy to share and discuss web pages, photos, and videos with your friends and family.