Page 1

Some
thoughts
on
Twitter
vs.
Facebook
Status
Updates
 By
Danah
Boyd
 
 





The
functional
act
of
constructing
a
tweet
or
a
status
update
is
very

 
 





similar.
Produce
text
in
roughly
140
characters
or
less
inside
a
single

 
 





line
text
box
and
click
a
button.
Voila!
Even
the
stream
based
ways
in

 
 





which
the
text
gets
consumed
look
awfully
similar.
Yet,
the
more
I
talk

 
 





with
people
engaged
in
practices
around
Twitter
and
Facebook,
the
more
I'm

 
 





convinced
these
two
things
are
not
actually
the
same
practice.
Why?

 
 





Audience.
 
 





There
are
two
critical
structural
differences
between
Facebook
and
Twitter

 
 





that
are
essential
to
understand
before
discussing
the
practices:
1)

 
 





social
graph
directionality;
2)
conversational
mechanisms.

 
 





Facebook's
social
graph
is
undirected.
What
this
means
is
that
if
I
want

 
 





to
be
Friends
with
you
on
Facebook,
you
have
to
agree
that
we
are
indeed

 
 





Friends.
Reciprocity
is
an
essential
cultural
practice
in
Facebook

 
 





(although
they
are
trying
to
rip
out
the
functional
requirement
as
it

 
 





relates
to
status
updates,
arguably
to
compete
with
Twitter).
Twitter,
on

 
 





the
other
hand,
is
fundamentally
set
up
to
support
directionality.
I
can

 
 





follow
you
without
you
following
me.
Sure,
I
can't
DM
you
in
this
case,

 
 





but
I'm
still
consuming
your
updates.
Yes,
yes,
yes,
privacy
settings

 
 





complicate
both
of
these
statements.
But
for
the
majority
of
users
of
each

 
 





site,
this
is
the
way
it
goes.
Stemming
from
this
are
a
whole
lot
of

 
 





social
norms
about
who's
following
who
and
who's
consuming
who's
content.

 
 





It's
pretty
clear
that
the
Celebrity
will
get
followed
without




reciprocating
on
Twitter,
but
there's
also
a
tremendous
opportunity
for

 
 





everyday
individuals
to
develop
a
following.
It's
not
just
the
Celebrities

 
 





who
are
following
different
people
than
the
people
who
follow
them;
it's

 
 





nearly
everyone
(except
for
those
who
think
that
auto‐follow
bots
relieve

 
 





social
tensions).

 
 





On
Facebook,
status
updates
are
placed
on
one's
Wall.
This
allows
anyone

 
 





else
(among
those
with
permission)
to
comment
on
the
update.
This
creates

 
 





a
conversational
space
as
it
is
quite
common
for
people
to
leave
comments

 
 





on
updates.
Conversely,
on
Twitter,
to
reply
to
someone's
tweet,
one

 
 





produces
an
at‐reply
on
their
own
stream.
Sure,
the
interlocutor
can
read

 
 





it
in
their
stream
of
at‐replies,
but
it
doesn't
actually
get
seen
or

 
 





produced
on
their
own
page.
Thus,
a
person's
Twitter
page
is
truly
the

 
 





product
of
their
self‐representation,
not
the
amalgamation
of
them
and

 
 





their
cohort.

 
 





So,
practices..
how
does
this
affect
practices?

 
 





Those
using
Facebook
are
primarily
concerned
with
connecting
with
those

 
 





that
they
know
(or
knew
in
high
school).
The
status
updates
are
an

 
 





invitation
to
conversation,
a
way
of
maintaining
social
peripheral

 
 





awareness
among
friends
and
acquaintances.
They're
about
revealing
life
as

 
 





it
happens
so
as
to
be
part
of
a
"keeping
up"
community.

 
 





Arguably,
Twitter
began
this
way,
if
only
because
the
geeks
and
bloggers

 
 





who
were
among
the
early
adopters
were
a
socially
cohesive
group.
Yet,
as

 
 





the
site
has
matured,
the
practices
have
changed
(and
I've
watched
a
whole




lot
of
early
adopters
who
weren't
part
of
the
professional
cohort
leave).

 
 





For
the
most
visible,
Twitter
is
a
way
of
producing
identity
in
a
public

 
 





setting.
This
is
where
you
see
personal
branding
as
central
to
the

 
 





identity
production
going
on
there.
It's
still
about
living
in
public,
but

 
 





these
folks
are
aware
of
being
seen,
of
having
an
audience
if
you
will.

 
 





Twitter
also
enables
a
modern
incarnation
of
parasocial
relations.
Sure,

 
 





there
are
one‐sided
relationships
on
Facebook
too,
but
they
are
far
more

 
 





the
norm
on
Twitter.
I
can
follow
the
details
of
a
Celebrity's
life

 
 





without
them
ever
knowing
I
exist.
At
the
same
time,
there's
the
remote

 
 





possibility
of
them
responding
which
is
what
complicates
traditional

 
 





parasocial
constructs.
Angelina
Jolie
could
never
see
me
reading
about
her

 
 





in
the
gossip
mags
and
commenting
on
her
latest
escapades,
but,
if
she

 
 





were
on
Twitter,
she
could
sense
my
watching
her
and
see
my
discussion
of

 
 





her.
That's
part
of
what
is
so
delightfully
tempting
for
Celebs.
 
 





In
short,
the
difference
between
the
two
has
to
do
with
the
brokering
of

 
 





status.
With
Facebook,
the
dominant
norm
is
about
people
at
a
similar

 
 





level
of
status
interacting.
On
Twitter,
there's
all
sorts
of
complicated

 
 





ways
in
which
status
is
brokered.
People
are
following
others
that
they

 
 





respect
or
worship
and
there's
a
kind
of
fandom
at
all
levels.
This
is

 
 





what
Terri
Senft
has
long
called
"micro‐celebrity."
Alice
Marwick
has
been

 
 





extending
Terri's
ideas
to
think
about
how
audience
is
brokered
on
Twitter

 
 





(paper
coming
soon).
But
I
think
that
they're
really
critical.
What
makes

 
 





Twitter
work
differently
than
Facebook
has
to
do
with
the
ways
in
which




people
can
navigate
status
and
power,
follow
people
who
don't
follow
them,

 
 





at‐reply
strangers
and
begin
conversations
that
are
fundamentally
about

 
 





two
individuals
owning
their
outreach
as
part
of
who
they
are.
It's
not

 
 





about
entering
another's
more
private
sphere
(e.g.,
their
Facebook

 
 





profile).
It's
about
speaking
in
public
with
a
targeted
audience

 
 





explicitly
stated.

 
 





As
you
can
see,
I'm
not
quite
there
with
my
words
on
this
just
yet,
but
I

 
 





feel
the
need
to
push
back
against
the
tendency
to
collapse
both
practices

 
 





into
one.
How
audience
and
status
is
brokered
really
matters
and

 
 





differentiates
these
two
sites
and
the
way
people
see
and
navigate
this.
 
 





One
way
to
really
see
this
is
when
people
on
Twitter
auto‐update
their

 
 





Facebook
(guilty
as
charged).
The
experiences
and
feedback
on
Twitter
feel

 
 





very
different
than
the
experiences
and
feedback
on
Facebook.
On
Twitter,

 
 





I
feel
like
I'm
part
of
an
ocean
of
people,
catching
certain
waves
and

 
 





creating
my
own.
Things
whirl
past
and
I
add
stuff
to
the
mix.
When
I
post

 
 





the
same
messages
to
Facebook,
I'm
consistently
shocked
by
the
people
who

 
 





take
the
time
to
leave
comments
about
them,
to
favorite
them,
to
ask

 
 





questions
in
response,
to
start
a
conversation.
(Note:
I'm
terrible
about

 
 





using
social
media
for
conversation
and
so
I'm
a
terrible
respondent
on

 
 





Facebook.)
Many
of
the
people
following
me
are
the
same,
but
the
entire

 
 





experience
is
different.

 
 





Over
the
last
few
years,
I've
watched
a
bunch
of
self‐sorting.
Folks
who

 
 





started
out
updating
on
Twitter
and
moved
to
Facebook
and
vice
versa.
The




voices
they
take
on
don't
change
that
much,
but
they
tend
to
find
one

 
 





medium
or
the
other
more
appropriate
for
the
kinds
of
messaging
they're

 
 





doing.
One
or
the
other
just
"fits"
better.
When
I
ask
them
why,
they

 
 





can't
really
tell
me.
Sometimes,
they
talk
about
people;
sometimes
they

 
 





talk
about
privacy
issues.
But
most
of
the
time,
one
just
clicks
better

 
 





for
reasons
they
can't
fully
articulate.

 
 





Different
social
media
spaces
have
different
norms.
You
may
not
be
able
to

 
 





describe
them,
but
you
sure
can
feel
them.
Finding
the
space
the
clicks

 
 





with
you
is
often
tricky,
just
as
finding
a
voice
in
a
new
setting
can
be.

 
 





This
is
not
to
say
that
one
space
is
better
than
the
other.
I
don't

 
 





believe
that
at
all.
But
I
do
believe
that
Facebook
and
Twitter
are

 
 





actually
quite
culturally
distinct
and
that
trying
to
create
features
to

 
 





bridge
them
won't
actually
resolve
the
cultural
differences.
And
boy
is
it

 
 





fun
to
watch
these
spaces
evolve.

 
 


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