Dare Obasanjo writes about Facebook’s news feed redesign and decides it is a big mistake. He’s backed by some 94% of users responding to a Facebook application poll, and cites internal gossip that Mark Zuckerberg thinks user feedback is irrelevant. I think Dare is premature in this assessment.

First of all, Facebook is not copying Twitter; it’s copying FriendFeed, who originally copied Twitter. Where Obasanjo describes two different models – phone book and micromessaging – there already are three, including personalized aggregation or what I will call the micro-portal. Facebook already had part of the last functionality, so its opening of the micromessaging stream consolidates all three legs of the tripod.

In doing so, Facebook is counting on the same relative inertia that Twitter has so carefully cultivated. The calculation is that 175 million people are less likely to move away from something than they are to wait and see what is going to happen. Twitter decided they could stonewall third parties once a critical mass was reached, parrying attempts to build competitive subservices by slowing down API access. Today’s Twitter to FriendFeed delay: a reported 40 minutes.

Why would Facebook users leave? They’d have to have a reason, another better service that provides what they apparently feel is lost by the news stream reworking. Certainly not Twitter, the counter-metaphor that is allegedly causing the trouble. Then who? MySpace? Open Social? Windows Live? Why? The problem with Dare’s thesis is that there’s no motivation to leave something that continues to provide the fundamental service…

My BOLD highlights.

This discussion will go on for a good part of 2009, and I for one have my make-believe betting money on Twitter (let’s say e.g. in terms of the amount of personal attention that I devote to each service).

I would overall argue that Facebook is from the ground up so deeply social/private that it will have a much harder time to morph into more Twitter-like openness and speed, which are at the heart of its real-time search power.

Stay tuned…

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