On Facebook’s new @mentions: Let’s not convict anyone of Twitter murder just yet

This is cross-posted on Communi-K: A KGBTexas Blog

Yesterday at retweet frenzy o’clock we heard about the latest news from Facebook. The social network will soon support @mentions within our beloved status updates. Only a few hours later, Mashable’s Ben Parr published a post in which he listed the following five ways the new @mentions on Facebook could impact Twitter.

  1. More of the conversation moves to Facebook
  2. Users could update Twitter through Facebook instead of vice versa
  3. Facebook becomes more attractive to big brands
  4. People move to Facebook for breaking events
  5. Developers flock back to Facebook

Remember when Facebook introduced real-time to the news feed? And when it bought FriendFeed? And when previews of the now live Facebook Lite first surfaced on the Web?This is not the first time Facebook has been dubbed a potential Twitter killer. And, not unlike the first time, I don’t think any murders will be taking place around here.The problem with the term “Twitter killer” is that it’s based on the assumption that Twitter and the other social network in question, in this case Facebook, are mutually exclusive and on the assumption that users will flock from Twitter to Facebook if it completely mirrors Twitter’s functionality.Dear early adopters, remember the laggards? For the month of August, Facebook and Twitter reported 122,220,617 and 23,579,044 unique visitors respectively. Even if every single unique Twitter visitor was also active on Facebook, we’re still only talking 20 percent here. This makes statements like “especially as many Facebook users utilize Twitter as their status update tool” untrue.What I think could happen when Facebook introduces @mentions is that the young’uns who are experienced Facebook users and have no clue why on Earth anyone would want to broadcast text-like messages to a following of complete strangers might be able to finally get Twitter because the learning curve isn’t so steep. And perhaps, when the time is right, they too will create accounts on Twitter, understand how it’s different from Facebook and thrive.Yes, Facebook is undoubtedly vying for user share. And to an extent, I agree with Ed Shahzade and think Facebook should try to be less of a pathetic leech incapable of innovation. However, for the sake of lowering that learning curve, could the fact that they are using the same @mentions terminology as Twitter be a good thing in the long-run?Only time will tell. Luckily, on the Web, we don’t usually have to wait around too long before things start to become apparent.

Flickr user abnelgonzalez

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