Facebook inches for Twitter with friend tags

Ronny Kerr · September 15, 2009 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/a99

The biggest social networking site just implemented @Twitter tags

Facebook vs TwitterWhile Twitter busies away making itself look prettier, Facebook rolls out another update replicating one of Twitter’s most basic tools. Facebook users can now tag their friends in status updates and other posts, according to Facebook.

This was a feature that was originally supposed to be rolled out to everyone “over the course of the next few weeks.” Well, it’s been just four days since that announcement: surprise!

Whereas users have for some time been able to tag friends in photos, videos, and notes—and they have made this one of the most popular features on the site—there has been no way of tagging each other in the most timely posts and updates made directly from the home page Publisher.

“People often update their status to reflect their thoughts and feelings, or to mention things they feel like sharing,” says Facebook software engineer Tom Occhino. He goes on to describe a distinct example for which this new feature would be useful: ‘Sometimes that includes referencing friends, groups or even events they are attending — for instance, posting ‘Grabbing lunch with Meredith Chin’ or ‘I'm heading to Starbucks Coffee Company — anyone want some coffee?’”

Twitter veterans will be highly experienced with the new feature, as it steals very basic functionality from Twitter (the @ formatting), with a slight enhancement (suggested friends). Typing “coffee with @mer” in Twitter will do nothing until you submit the tweet, at which point it will appear on the user’s (@mer’s) feed. It will not suggest any users from your followers or followed lists.

Facebook’s more intelligent implementation, on the other hand, fills in suggestions from your friends as you type the name, just as it does when you do a normal search.


Once the update is submitted, tagged friends receive notifications (like when they are tagged via other means) and a post on their wall. Also like other updates, the tagged friend can easily remove the tag.

This is just another in a line of developments (FriendFeed acquisition, Facebook Live Stream Box) over the past few months that shows Facebook, the most popular social networking on the Web (with over 250 million users), eclipsing the functionality of Twitter.

Of course, we can only expect the eclipse to continue to close in future months. The biggest change to expect from Facebook: the huge push for users to make their profiles and content more public, the biggest barrier separating Facebook from Twitter.

(main image source: JESS3 Blog) 

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