Facebook has been redesigning its entire product around getting people to tell their friends what they’re up to — just as microblogging service Twitter does. Facebook’s latest step in that direction came today with the addition of status updates that appear on third-party desktop applications.
A couple of popular Twitter desktop app makers, TweetDeck and Seesmic, are already showing off the new feature. TweetDeck now lets you read a live stream of your friends’ status updates while reading your friends’ tweets. You sign into TweetDeck using your Facebook identity; you’ll see a pane within the TweetDeck interface showing your friends’ status updates. And in one smooth motion, you can send a single update that appears as both an update in Facebook and a tweet on Twitter.
Seesmic, which offers desktop Twitter app Twhirl, also launched a new desktop app for Facebook this weekend. It’s much more simple than TweetDeck. You just log in and you can see a live stream of your Facebook friends’ status updates.
Bigger picture, Facebook is trying to orient its entire service around feeds of information. You can see this in its latest redesign and in its move last month to let third-party developers access user status updates. The desktop is just another place where that can happen. The company has also previously allowed applications to access Facebook data on the desktop, such as Apple’s iPhoto photo uploader. By providing status updates for third-party desktop applications, Facebook is helping its status updates spread more widely. The move also makes Facebook status updates a clearer alternative to Twitter.
Facebook has nearly 200 million users, while Twitter has an unknown but surely far smaller number. The two services are fundamentally different at this point, as Facebook is about sharing private information with your real friends, and Twitter is about publicly sharing information with people who may follow you but who you don’t follow back. But Facebook wants people to use Facebook like Twitter — instead of Twitter — it seems. And Facebook status updates on your desktop is another way to reach that goal.
Is this what users want? That’s not clear, so here’s an anecdote from my sister, a Facebook-using college student. She left this on my Facebook wall the other day:
Please tell facebook that I do not like the new homepage because it makes it easier to see all status changes, updates, activities of friends, etc. It annoys me and makes me procrastinate all the more. Facebook is ruining my life. blablabla, i could be doing so many more productive, fun things than spend hours on the computer. anyway, that’s just my view.
[Facebook Twitter logo via Nico Hagenburger.]