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Facebook Borrows From Twitter...Yet Again
By: Jennifer Graber
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Facebook has "borrowed" a page out of the Twitter playbook. And this is not the first time. Remember when these social tools were exclusive to Twitter: @mentions, hashtags, verified accounts, and following top names and brands? You can now add trending topics to that list as well. Facebook has followed in the footsteps of Twitter by implementing trending topics and is currently in beta testing with some of its mobile users.
The beta testing is limited to a select few mobile users and is in the early stages of the process. Facebook’s trending topics will work in a similar manner to Twitter’s. The beta group will have a tile featured in their news feed that will contain certain trending words. Users will be able to click on the topics and see similar posts from other users that may or may not actually be on their friends list. This does bring up some privacy concerns as Facebook’s settings are already difficult to navigate, so it will be interesting to see how the social networking site will manage potential security and privacy concerns.
Facebook has said that more details of the trending topic feature will be given out when and if the feature is debuted in a wide release. Therefore, it is a possibility that the general Facebook population may never see this feature. But considering past rumors that have come to fruition, it is probably closer to possible than Facebook will say.
Reviews of Facebook’s move have been largely negative or indifferent. Many say Facebook should refine what it has rather than copying Twitter. Others believe that Facebook should focus on changes that are more relevant and exciting by being a social media leader. Some even say that adding trending topics will increase "noise" in an already busy feed. And quite a few seem to be fed up with the number of changes and amount of control Facebook has over its users. The general consensus seems to be that Facebook has drifted far from where it should be.
This comes on the heels of the announcement that Facebook is altering its news feed algorithm in an effort to be more "transparent." The algorithm will be written to display older stories that may have previously been missed at the top of the news feed. According to Facebook, this should increase the number of stories seen in a user’s news feed. Why are we not seeing all of our news stories to begin with? And shouldn't we have the ability to easily change our own settings and filters? But that is a whole different ball game.
It seems that, in light of the responses to previous and currently proposed changes, Facebook would want to perfect what it has rather than trying to do everything that Twitter does. The sites are designed to be two different social media experiences — Twitter is not a shortened version of Facebook. Is Facebook trying to corner the market on social media by being everything, all at once? And will users ever get annoyed enough with all of Facebook’s changes to jump ship? Or is this simply a case of following best practices in an attempt to improve? And should we, as users and marketers, be more accepting?

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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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