Anyone on Twitter is familiar with the use of the @ sign as a way to identify people you are referencing in your tweets. Now, folks on Facebook are going to start using the @ sign more, too, even though you won’t see it.
Facebook announced yesterday it is going to start allowing its users to tag people in their status updates the way they’ve been tagging them in photos, notes, etc.
According to the social networking giant’s blog:
As you type the name of what you would like to reference, a drop-down menu will appear that allows you to choose from your list of friends and other connections, including groups, events, applications and Pages.
The difference between what you see on Twitter vs. what you see on Facebook when using the @ sign is really about what you won’t see. Facebook will automatically turn your @ reference into a link, so the status update will show the person or page you’ve referenced as a link and the @ sign will disappear.
I can’t help but think how much Facebook is trying to become a competitor to Twitter when, in reality, they fulfill different functions. Still, with the announcement of Facebook Lite earlier this summer, this addition of @ tagging isn’t surprising. It sounds like the Lite version is arriving in bits and pieces.
It will be interesting to see how much of a ruckus this new status update tagging feature causes for the rabid Facebook fans who are opposed to change. What will their Facebook protest group be called? Facebook says you’ll be able to untag yourself from someone’s status update, the way you can now from photos and videos. But that won’t be enough for those folks who want to remain anonymous on a public social network.
Still, this move isn’t about Facebook vs. Twitter. It’s about information searching and marketing and how that’s going to change from Google searches and performance review sites to a crowd sourcing model.
There’s an old saying that goes, “It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.” That’s about to become even more true for Facebook users as the what you’re doing can now be easily linked to whom you’re doing it with.
(Screen shot courtesy of Facebook.)