For most young people, Twitter is their public platform to share opinions, communicate with others and network. Meanwhile, Facebook allows users to show their private self to close friends and family. The social media rivalry is becoming more fierce day by day, so what is the divide between the two sites? But more importantly, with certain users saying Facebook is dying out, will we see the end for Mark Zuckerberg’s social network?
After Facebook was created in 2004, the site quickly became viral amongst young people. Those who didn’t meet the over-13 age requirement lied about their age in order to join their friends on the Facebook community. As technology advanced since then, friendships moved online and having a Facebook was – and is – essential in order to keep up with the latest gossip, rumours or banter within a friendship circle.
On its own Facebook page, the social network says: “People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them”.
Meanwhile, Twitter’s about page says: “When you need to know what’s going on – in your town or across the globe – get the best of what’s happening now on Twitter”.
Upon comparison, it’s obvious that Facebook is a site purely to connect with family and friends, Twitter boasts a social network which can span “across the globe” and enable users to discover news instantly. In my opinion, Facebook no longer has the instantaneous aspect when it comes to people posting statuses. Recently, Facebook swapped the ‘Most Recent’ option for ‘News Stories’ (where statuses are not organised by time). Whilst it may help the social network to stand out when compared to its rival, Twitter, is it a wise move to make at a time where we want and consume up-to-date information almost instantly?
So perhaps this is where Facebook slipped up? Maybe. Another situation I recall in the early days of Facebook is when the number of friends you have on the social network implied a level of status and popularity. In this sense, this idea links to what I mentioned previously about Facebook being a continuation of real-life friendship groups and scenarios in places like schools, for example. In school, we determined popularity by how many people knew that person, and how many friends they had. This continued on Facebook for a while, but why did it stop?
It’s uncertain, but it’s likely to be because of a change in society and culture. We now care more about our opinions being valued on a wider scale than how those opinions are valued by our friends and family. It’s an unfortunate way for our culture to operate, but we determine the quality of something through statistic and numbers rather than engagement. In Twitter’s case, the social network adapts to this culture and uses its follower system as a way in which to show how valued a person’s content is on the site.
But has Facebook tried to adapt as well? In a way, yes. Over time, Facebook adopted the use of hashtags, videos on the site became more popular and they recently launched a live broadcasting service. However, some users have deemed the changes to be too similar to Twitter, YouTube and Periscope respectively. In one example, Hank Green, a creator on YouTube, wrote a blog post on Medium about Facebook Video, talking about the differences between videos on Facebook compared to YouTube.
So it could be said that Facebook’s attempts to adapt to our social network culture has been a little ‘bumpy’, but that’s likely to be because Facebook is the most private social network – we need that amongst the plethora of other mobile apps and websites. Whilst Twitter, Periscope and YouTube allow us to demonstrate our public selves, Facebook is the site dedicated to our private self and the art of gatekeeping (a sociology term meaning to restrict certain aspects of yourself from being shared with others). In that respect, I think Facebook has cornered itself to that main purpose – where it is unable to adapt to a constantly evolving culture.
So whilst Facebook may not be used as much, the need to have a place to communicate our private self online will remain in our culture for some time. Other social networks like Twitter will be able to evolve with culture, but Facebook can’t deviate from its purpose of being the ‘private’ social network. I think that is where the Facebook-Twitter divide comes from.
What do you think? What do you use Facebook and Twitter for? Comment below!