The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


Facebook vs. Twitter

Today’s social networking landscape resembles an old–fashioned Western screenplay. With websites popping up and disappearing faster than played out mining towns, the wild web has proven to be a dangerous place to stop your Conestoga wagon.

Just like the Old West, failure is plentiful and success is rare. Facebook, established in 2004, is the weathered sheriff and Twitter, two years the junior and playing the up-and-coming cowboy, are the rare exceptions.

But, in this novel take on an old narrative, both gunslingers have yet to fire a shot at the other’s brow prompting the question: Is there room enough on the Internet for the both of them in an age of shortening attention spans?

“If Twitter wants to stay Twitter, I think they both can go as long as they take it,” said Michael Schnell, a business administration graduate student who prefers Facebook over Twitter.

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“But if one tries to do what the other does, one will have to fail.”

History hints that it’s impossible for both sites to remain significant in the long haul.

Before Facebook became the most used social networking web–site it had to battle for clicks with MySpace, a blueprint site that showed Mark Zuckerberg what worked and what didn’t. And prior to ranking friends on MySpace people were busy navigating Friendster.

The past shows that as the Internet and social networking change, companies built around the premise have a tendency of cannibalizing each other. Friendster’s reign at the top lasted roughly two years and MySpace’s didn’t last much longer.

So how is it possible that Facebook and Twitter have already coexisted three times as long as any other top two social networks?

Schnell said his belief is predicated on the fact that Twitter and Facebook provide inherently different services to their users.

“They’re both social networks but they provide you with a whole different style,” said Schnell, who joined Facebook in 2007 and Twitter last year.

“They almost complement each other. Twitter is shorter and you can check it quick but when you log on Facebook you can check pictures and play games.”

The contrast lures tweeters to become status updating machines and turns Facebook aficionados into trending topic gurus.

And the numbers agree, suggesting that maximum growth hasn’t been reached for either one.

The average number of tweets-per-day has increased almost 300 percent since February 2010 while nearly 42 percent of Americans manage a Facebook page.

“I think [their success] comes from their simplicity,” said Mike Nelson, a junior biology/premed major. “They keep it simple. The keep the same format for everyone and don’t try to do too much.”

Although often uttered in the same breath, their simplicity and moniker of “social networking website” are where the comparisons should end. Twitter, tailored for business and celebrity, is built around sharing nuggets of information in real time while Facebook, tailored for families and friends, is built around sharing a lifetimes worth of information with no particular haste.

One an example of the stream-of-consciousness thinking synonymous with the 21st century, the other an example of the now prudent way to celebrate birthdays, maintain friends and keep up with family.

“They both have their pros and cons that are different from the other,” said Landis Erwin, SGA president, a senior journalism communications major and noted Twitter enthusiast.

“It gives people a choice of which they like more but there is enough support for each side to make them last.”

The cons list may be shrinking for Twitter, however, especially for those around Gannon’s campus according to Erwin, Nelson and Schnell.

“People are realizing that it’s just not normal people saying what they’re doing,” said Nelson, who admits to spending two hours per day on Facebook and Twitter.

“You have a chance to communicate with your icons. You can know if they’re having a rough day like you.”

In addition to the consistent website presentation and leveled playing field between VIPs and nobodies, Twitter has become a hub where news catches fire and spreads as more media outlets invest heavily in there twitter outfits.

“I follow CNN and use Twitter for breaking news,” said Annie Cacchione, a senior psychology major who has only been on social networking site since October.

“It’s so much easier to use and organize. All I have to do is scroll up and read.”

While Cacchione compared Facebook to a bad boyfriend you’re too familiar with to get rid of, others aren’t so quick to pull the Ethernet cord on Zuckerberg’s cash cow.

Schnell said that there is something significant about Facebook’s ability to connect people through pictures, videos and groups.

“I feel like Facebook can do a little more – there’s more in it,” he said.

“It connects me on a different kind of level. I’m able to connect with friends that go to school somewhere else without blowing up their phone.”

Perhaps Facebook is more aware of the change of perception than they let on.

The recent move to a timeline now encourages users to network heavily and view their profile as a life-long scrap book.

“A lot of my family members use Facebook to post pictures and connect with each other,” Erwin said.

“There’s more personal information on it but that’s a positive and negative.”

Whether your preference is a 140-character comments or 140-page picture collage, it doesn’t look like either Facebook or Twitter will be going anywhere soon.

“One is geared toward social messaging and the other is for news and hot topics,” Nelson said. “They’re two different social mediums. They’ll be able to coexist.”


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