We talked about Facebook biting off Twitter and FriendFeed back in March when they made their first round of major UI changes. I mentioned that copying a few features was probably not going to have people paying Facebook any more attention and it really comes down to what’s under the hood, but a lot has happened since then. For one thing, to the horror of many FriendFeed users, Facebook bought FriendFeed and stole all their staff. While Twitter has continued to gain popularity, Facebook dropped Facebook Lite and the ability to @reply your friends just like on Twitter.
You know those annoying alerts you get on Facebook when someone tags you in a photo? Well, now people can tag you in any status update. Besides the obvious fact that this is blatantly ripped from Twitter, this feature has some serious implications.
You may recall when Twitter switched from Replies to Mentions. Before Mentions, you would only see a tweet in your Reply stream if the tweet started with your @yourname. Mentions meant that you would catch any mention of your name, regardless of where the @yourname part appeared in the tweet.
This change opened a new avenue of attack for spammers. All they had to do was say your name and you would see it, regardless of who was following who. I’m thinking Facebook’s privacy features and various walls and blocks may be immune to this type of spamming, but we will see as the feature rolls out in the next few weeks.
Even if we leave out the hardcore spammers, there is still potential for abuse. Let’s assume I’m Facebook buddies with Obama. I’m sure he’d be highly annoyed if I tagged him every time I posted something about politics. When you tag someone, they receive a notification and a post on their wall saying that you talked about them. That just seems like a lot to me. I get enough notifications as it is.
There is definitely some good that can come from this feature, though. Let’s say I’m having an interesting discussion with Corvida and she says something that I want to share. I can tag her in the update and give her some shine, exposing her profile to my huge Facebook audience (it would probably be the other way around, but you get the point). I can’t count how many times I’ve wanted to mention someone on Facebook in an update because they were doing something cool and I wanted others to see, but there just wasn’t an easy way to make that happen.
Just as #hashtags have made it easier to follow ongoing topics on Twitter, @tagging on Facebook should serve to provide a more cohesive discussion platform. Facebook’s tagging feature includes people as well as groups, events, applications and Pages. A simple drop-down menu makes it easy to tag things without remembering exact names. This will give Facebook users a lot of power, but with great power comes great responsibility and it will be interesting to see what comes of this. What do you think?
props to SheGeeksCategory: web 2.0 | Tags: facebook, mentions, tags, twitter