Twitter connects users based on thoughts and brain cells. Facebook connects people who Like the same brand of pants. - Nicole D. Miller
These are my words. Mark them. I've debated this issue multiple times from a buffet line of angles with a melting pot of people. The conversations always go a little something like this:
"Why do you like Twitter, Nicole? I think Twitter is stupid."
Me: Do you know how to use it?
Me: It's much different from Facebook. Instead of waiting for someone to comment on your status or tag you at the latest bar scene, people on Twitter are busy learning from the feeds they are subscribed, connecting with people who share the same thoughts and ideas or talking to public figures who would have never noticed their existence if it wasn't for the unique Twitter format.
"So what? Facebook can do that too."
Me: Maybe. But is Jim Carrey really updating the Jim Carrey Facebook page? Considering the fact that his Facebook Biography was posted via Wikipedia, I think that's a big fat no. But he sure does have 73,650 Likes, while 616 Facebook users are currently talking about him. I would rather follow him on Twitter and read his kooky Tweets with random photos of himself instead of connect with a giant Facebook advertisement for Jim Carrey.
"Yeah right. It's probably not really Jim Carrey! How do you know?"
Me: Because it's an official Twitter account for Jim Carrey. See the blue check mark and photos he has posted of himself? And look at the Tweets. Entertaining opinions and silly, custom Jim Carrey emoticons. Not career plugs.
"Good point. Are there other famous people on Twitter?"
Me: Yes! For example, Jonah Hill is an avid Tweeter. Once in awhile, he'll cue his followers to Tweet him rapid-fire questions about anything and he answers any questions for a certain number of minutes. That's fun. Even publications like USA Today reach out to Twitter users. One day I got into a discussion with @USATodaytech about Facebook and they were talking to me personally. On Christmas morning I Tweeted a photograph to a company called Quirky. The photo was of my grandma opening a Quirky product on Christmas morning and my Tweet/photo was Retweeted by the founder and CEO of Quirky, Ben Kaufman. Twitter is a great way to get noticed by public figures or celebrities.
"But you only get 140 characters to say something! How lame is that? Facebook doesn't give you a small limit for status updates."
Me: That's because Twitter trims the fat from what people are trying to say and get out in the world. Do you really want someone to drone on and on about their cat and inject that into your newsfeed?
Me: But they can on Facebook. At least Twitter will cut them off by the time they get to the cute way the cat sleeps. Then, Twitter connects that person with other users who use cat-related hashtags.
"Facebook gives you more characters per status update. I would say this allows for more creativity and mental stimulation!"
Me: And you are very much entitled to that opinion. However, writing clear and concise sentences is not easy. If it was, everybody would have a journalism degree. Twitter forces people to be short and sweet. This relates back to my point about Twitter stimulating more brain cell use than Facebook, where people partake in the near-limitless droning.
"Well either way, social networks are all the same! Friends and followers. Photos and updates."
Me: Yes, you can Tweet photographs of random things on Twitter. Keyword: Random. Most likely, the photograph is related to the 140 characters you're Tweeting with it, making it relevant to thoughts and conversation. No, Twitter does not let you upload entire photo albums or tag people in photographs in which they never wanted to be digitally connected with in the first place. Friends vs. followers is also debatable. Think of followers as your audience. Your followers are actually interested in what you have to think and say - the entire point of Twitter. Gaining Facebook 'friends' can be forced and awkward, as they request your permission to form a digital friendship for all to see. And even so, is what they're saying really that interesting or thought-provoking? What if it's someone you haven't spoken to since high school and never really liked? Do you accept them and put up with their digital life that has now meshed with yours? Do you accept them as a 'friend' and then hide their posts in your feed to keep your sanity without offending them? Do you deny them and feel like a jerk for being mean to a possible new 'friend'? On Twitter, they can follow you or unfollow you and vice versa. You can make everything public or make everything private, where followers would have to request to follow you. Simple.
"I don't know. I have enough privacy concerns with Facebook. I don't think I want to add another social network to the mix."
Me: Please don't get me started on Facebook and privacy.
"It's all the same, though."
Me: I'm going to level with you. Facebook uses its users more than the users use Facebook. It's almost like malware/spyware that comes in a fun package. Sure, it has entertaining qualities. You can poke people and Like things. Then you can perform free advertising on Facebook, for Facebook, to make your 'friends' Like things. Then people can tag you in photographs that are now connected to you, whether you have your tagged photos set to "private" or not. You can also wait a few years while Facebook monitors and archives your every move, on and off the website. On the website, your information will come back in a new Facebook Timeline. Don't like that idea? Well, that's too bad. Off the website, Facebook has special tracking cookies to monitor what you're browsing on the web to a certain extent. Wondering why you get all of those Facebook ads that somehow cater to your interest and/or something you've researched independently? That's why. Are you aware that the Federal Trade Commission has also stepped in with Facebook privacy issues? The FTC doesn't just step into things willy-nilly.
"I think you're contradicting yourself. Didn't Twitter have some issues with the FTC?"
Me: Yes. That had to do with Twitter not having enough security against hackers (outside sources). That had nothing to do with Twitter deceiving, invading and using its own users willingly and knowingly. Do you know how many ads are on my Twitter home page right now? Zero. Do you know how many times Twitter has used my web identity, words or photographs to form an advertisement or fan page? Never.
"I guess this makes sense. I still don't get how Twitter really works, though."
Me: Here, let me show you how to make a Twitter profile.