[DigCult] What Facebook users can learn from Twitter

by Thom Kiraly

The fact that many of the platforms we use online are built on an idea of instant access and permanent records is something I’ve brought up in earlier posts. A Twitter or Facebook user can never know exactly who is reading what they are reading or when they are reading. They may have a clue (they do, after all, know who their “friends” and “followers” are), but posting updates in public, they do not know for sure what friend from which of their social groups will read it. It may be their actual friend (a rare case), a business acquaintance, a relative or their boss. The established term for this is context collapse. This is my big problem with Facebook at the moment. On Twitter, people seem to be well aware that their tweets are public and that what they write could be read by other people than they may have imagined. On Facebook, users often seem to be fooled by the “friend”-label of their contacts and thus use Facebook as a place to vent their frustrations and disappointments, not considering the possibility that it may reflect poorly on them as a professionals or on any of the other roles they play in their daily lives. This is not to say that people should, as it were, Smile or Die, only that Facebook users could benefit by looking at Twitter and thinking about the ways in which they present themselves to people in the private/public space of Facebook.

[Perhaps, this could be summed up in the quote: “Twitter makes me like people I’ve never met, Facebook makes me hate people I know in real life.” These DigCult posts are, after all, supposed to be short reading responses (200 words (though this one is exactly 300)) and not massive elaborations on these subjects.]