This afternoon Josh Elman announced a new feature which enables Facebook users to import their friends in order to follow them on Twitter. While it would serve as an amazing feature, Facebook doesn’t appear to like it as the functionality has now been blocked. For those unaware of the historical context, Josh Elman, the person who announced the feature, used to work at Facebook.
Interestingly enough, Mark Zuckerberg told Justin Smith the other day that he spent too much time focused on Twitter. Here’s the exact statement he posted in response to his lessons learned from the interaction with Twitter:
At first I think we learned that they do a lot of things really well. It’s a very nice, simple service. They do one thing really well – that’s powerful.
I think the main thing was we looked at their growth rate and – well, we saw our exponential growth rate continue for a very long period of time, and it still does at a super-linear rate, though not quite 3% a week any more. I looked at their rate and thought if this continues for 12 months or 18 months, then in a year they’re going to be bigger than us. I guess I extrapolated too much from our own experience of what was possible, but it just turned out that that their growth rate was kind of unnatural. They got a lot of media attention, and it grew very quickly for a little period of time.
Most of the lessons I take away from the whole thing now are that, as good as I think they are, I think I personally just paid too much attention to it.
It was a back handed slap at Twitter and just one day later, the Twitter launched a service to let users import their contacts. Ultimately the issue at hand may involve Twitter’s decision to take information collected from users on Facebook, and integrate it off Facebook. While it really isn’t against the terms, it would have been more elegant to leverage Facebook for websites (formerly Facebook Connect).
We aren’t quite sure why this functionality has been shut down, but given that it has broken within minutes of first launching, we’re guessing this may be a new mini-battle in the ongoing saga of Twitter versus Facebook. We’ll have to see if this is just an error or a conscious decision to block Twitter. What do you think?
Both Facebook and Twitter have said that they are working together to fix the problem.