Anybody logging in to Facebook today will be greeted with a snazzy new functionality to play with – which might give you a little sense of de-ja-vu if you’re a Twitter user too… Yes, Facebook have upped the ante in their continued quest to compete with / get ahead of Twitter, by allowing users to tag friends in status updates, in almost exactly the same way as Twitter.
I was notified that the functionality had been rolled out last night by a good friend at Facebook, but according to the official blog it will take a few days for everybody to see the service. Here’s how they described it on the official blog:
“One of the most popular features on Facebook is tagging, which gives you the ability to identify and reference people in photos, videos and notes. Today, we are adding a new way to tag people and other things you’re connected to on Facebook — in status updates and other posts from the Publisher. It’s another way to let people know who and what you’re talking about.”
If, like me, you’re quite excited about this prospect and want to give it a try, it’s very easy to do – just write a status message as normal, then add the “@” symbol and the first letter of a person (or indeed a fan page, as I did above) and a drop-down will appear, allowing you to select the name from a list. Easy peasy. You can add as many names or pages as you like, and those users will get a notification in the normal way that you have “tagged them in a post”.
Online reaction to the change seems to be generally positive so far, though everyone (apart from Facebook themselves!) makes the obvious comparison that this is another move by Facebook to emulate Twitter’s success. To be fair to Facebook though, tagging has been around a lot longer than Twitter and it’s essentially just taking the current facebook photo-tagging functionality to the next (and most obvious) stage.
I’m sure a few people will complain that Facebook are trying to get users to abandon Twitter and return to the comforting folds of Facebook, but I personally still believe there’s plenty of room for both to co-exist happily. I for one have a very different collection of friends/followers on each service, so will continue to use them separately. But only time will tell how this will affect the supposed battle between the two services.