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If you can’t buy it, beat it…

Annie Wakefield
Digital Marketing Manager
5 March 2009

Facebook is changing again: the company made a number of announcements on 4 March about changes to its home page, profile pages, and activity streams. Many social media watchers see this as a response to the rise of Twitter as a real-time message broadcasting system that goes beyond members’ personal circle of friends.

One of the biggest changes is that Facebook is getting rid of the distinction between private profiles and public pages and the 5,000-friend limit will be dropped from the public pages.

Facebook doesn’t want Twitter to become the main way in which large companies and public figures connect with their fans. So far, Facebook Pages haven’t really been the place fans go to connect with their favorite celebrities or brands. Twitter, where they can get updates in real time, has been much more popular with fans and followers.

Before these changes, the updates that populate Facebook’s news feeds on everyone’s personal page were updated every 10 minutes or so, now they will be updated in real time. Facebook’s introduction of real-time updates and a one-sided follow system mimics Twitter’s functionality.

You might think this is too little, too late, for Facebook after claims of users leaving the site and migrating to Twitter and other sites after a clash over the Terms of Use and tales of data stealing virus’s, but the sites user base of over 175 million dwarf’s Twitter’s.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained at the recent press conference:

“What we’re talking about today is that there’s a philosophical change in that we want to converge these public figures (which are one way) and friends (two way connections). These changes will become evident front-and-center on the homepage.”

In addition to many other changes, instead of asking, “What are you doing right now?” the new status update box will ask, “What’s on your mind?” Mix in Facebook Connect, and these thought streams can be collected from all over the Web.

Facebook is showing how adept the site can be at responding to new threats: if Facebook can’t buy Twitter, it will try to beat it instead.

No word yet on when we will be seeing these changes in South Africa or in the UK.

Facebook changes

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